Monday, February 8, 2010

License to Chill

Upon returning from my southern sojourn thirteen days ago I was greeted by a very unfriendly smell emanating from my disgruntled refrigerator. My refrigerator and I have not been on good terms since I begrudgingly adopted the sad sack several years back after my original late 1970’s whirlpool gave its last gasp. This newer vintage unit arrived with only one wire rack (4 inches too short), two cracked veggie bins, one missing door shelf, and a blue appliance light bulb that gave my sparse collection of groceries a rather ghoulish hue.

It always ran too cold, freezing my gallon water jug and turning my yogurt into a tasty thick custard dessert – but what could I do? I live in a rent stabilized building, paying a fraction of what my cohorts shell out monthly. Some people pay major clams to get a sub zero refrigeration system, I got mine for free.

Old Blue and I cohabitated for several years until this past Fall when I noticed a small puddle of water collecting around the base of the unit. This was only a sign of bad things to come. Quickly the exterior hydration issue became an interior hydration issue prompting me to place aluminum baking pans on the one wire rack to contain the drippage. I informed the super of this sloppy mess while he was ineptly affixing my precariously shifting living room window back into its frame– not surprisingly he shrugged and said ‘OK’.

Fast forward a few months later, I’m stuck with a 52 degree fridge with a freezer that just about hovers at the 32 degree mark – great for ice, bad for frozen food. Since my unfortunate discovery 2 weeks ago I’ve called my management company daily and have been visited by my super several times (I don’t think he has been up to the 4th floor since my window expulsion of ’09). At first he told me it was fixed, funny because the thermometer still read 52 degrees, he then recanted and said he would get me a new fridge (Yeah!), but when it arrived it was an OLD fridge (Booo). When I called the next day to inform him that the ‘new to me’ fridge was still at 50 degrees he said I was impatient, it needed at least 48 hours to get to the proper temperature – hmmm that sounded odd, but OK. After 48 hours it was freezing ice BUT the fridge was still holding at 50. Now the super got real crafty, he entered my apartment about 20 minutes before I returned home moved my frozen leftovers from the freezer into the fridge then propped the thermometer next to the frozen food and viola, fixed fridge. Yeah that fooled me for about 2 hours until the frozen food thawed…..ughhhhhh. Next step, replace some parts and leave the proof behind – thanks super for the empty cartons! Now the thing was really humming, ice was icing, fridge was fridging and I was itching to place my Fresh Direct order – since for the past 10 days I had been living off of single serving cans of tuna (no mayo), toast and tap water. Not sure if I was just too lazy to press the ‘place order’ button or I had lost all faith in a 40 year old refrigeration system but I paused and thought – maybe give it one more day.

Freekin’ bastard proved me correct; the next day not only was the fridge up to the mid 70’s but no more ice! I thought about propping open the refrigerator door, setting up my beach chair and humidifier in the kitchen and pretending that I was on an island oasis but instead I set off to find a cooler place to store the only remaining item in my refrigerator, the butter. Thankfully my building was constructed in 1929, dutifully appointed with all the charming accoutrements that befell the pre war era such as outdoor ‘milk boxes”. Yep I finally have a practical use for that cold dairy storage box that hangs off my exterior kitchen wall (see pictures).

I think tomorrow I will heat my iron on the stove and utilize the fold down ironing board that is concealed behind a tiny trap door while I await the arrival of old fridge number THREE!

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