The freezer section of our kitchen refrigerator is not working. I think you know what that means.
It's time to buy a new house.
It's easier to find a new house than a new refrigerator.
Refrigerators used to last forever. When my friend and co-author (Spacewalker: My Journey in Space and Faith as NASA's Record-Setting Frequent Flyer) transferred from Edwards Air Force Base in California to Houston, Texas in the late 1970s to begin work for NASA, he moved his family himself. He used the moving-expense funds from the Air Force to buy a new refrigerator.
That refrigerator went into use before the first space shuttle flight. It kept running through all 135 missions and the building of the International Space Station. The space shuttles, that were considered old and outdated, stopped flying in 2011. But the last I heard, Jerry's old, outdated refrigerator was still running.
My wife had our first refrigerator long before we were married. We eventually moved it to the garage. When we replaced it the delivery guys asked how old it was. I told them it was close to 40 years.
"This one won't last anywhere near that long," one of them said.
I appreciated their honesty.
Our 21-year old kitchen refrigerator has long out-lasted its modern-day expected lifetime.
The first thing to go was the icemaker. We repaired that, it broke again, leaked onto the floor and we had to replace a section of hardwood flooring. We finally just shut the icemaker down and stopped fighting with it. Then ice started forming at the top of the ice chute in the door. The ice kept melting and leaked on the floor. That's when we turned the freezer off.
Now that we're not using the kitchen freezer we're using a freezer in the garage that has to be older than 40 years and runs beautifully.
Replacing a refrigerator is a big deal for a family. First, it fits inside a cabinet so the new refrigerator has to be exactly the same size as the old one or we'll have to rebuild the kitchen – or buy a new house.
Second, our current refrigerator is not just a refrigerator. It is a calendar, an appointment reminder, and a communicator ("death will befall anyone who eats the cheese I bought for company this weekend"). And most important of all, it has displayed family photographs and the art and accomplishments of one of our children and five of our grandchildren since 1993 when we moved into this house.
Report cards (the good ones, anyway) have been displayed on that refrigerator. Although we often couldn't tell what they were, the drawings by young children were displayed on that refrigerator with as much pride as if they were Monets.
Since these days our older grandkids don't give us their college papers to hang on the refrigerator door, in recent years it's mostly been used for family photos. The whole door is covered in photos. Relatives come over and check to make sure their photo is included. Sometimes they move it to a more prominent location.
Me: "How can we get rid of this refrigerator? It's like family."
Wife: "I know. And I have even worse news. Almost all the nice refrigerators have the ice and water dispensers in the door. I don't want to go through that again. Also, the most popular refrigerators have stainless steel doors, which won't match our stove and other appliances. Yes, they have white like our current refrigerator, but the white ones have no style. They look like they belong in an institution. And all the stainless steel ones that fit in our space are the kind that show smudges. They don't have a nice protective coating that a few of the newer models offer."
Me: "They look nice."
Wife: "Yes, but without that special coating, they don't hold magnets. We won't be able to hang anything on the door."
Me: "So where will we put all the photos? Where will I post my doctor and dentist appointments?
Wife: "And who will clean up your fingerprints from the thousand times a day you go into the refrigerator."
Me: "So then you'll know every time I go into the refrigerator."
Wife: "I already know every time you go into the refrigerator."
We went to the store to look for a new refrigerator.
Salesman: "We have all the latest technology in refrigerators here. We have dozens of models to choose from. We have energy saving features, water and ice dispensers, and freezer sections on the top, bottom and side. Whatever you want, we've got it."
Me: "We want a refrigerator that doesn't have an icemaker and has a magnetic door and doesn't show smudges.
Salesman: "What do you think this is, the 20th century? If you want magnetic doors, no smudges and no icemaker you're way out of date. It would be easier to find a telephone that's only a telephone."
Me: "Well, then, maybe we should look at used refrigerators. Do you have any of those without an icemaker and with a magnetic door?"
Salesman: "Yes. But they're 30 years old and they don't work."
I suppose, in a way, all of this is just part of our ever-changing high technology. People don't really need refrigerators anymore to brag about the children and grandchildren and show off their family photos.
Today we have Facebook for that!
I wonder if anyone makes a refrigerator with a computer screen door that displays Facebook?
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