Came home from a party last night and needed something cold to drink before turning in. Reached in for some ice cubes and my hand sloshed around in water. Not a good omen.
That very afternoon my husband had commented on how the fridge seemed to be running noisier than usual.
Sure enough, the refrigerator had died. The temperature in the freezer was about 40, and in the refrigerator about 50. Not warm enough for any of the food to spoil, but certainly warm enough to write the obituary.
We went into emergency mode, first transferring everything from the indoor freezer to the garage freezer. Then we tackled the refrigerator, repackaging some things to go into the freezer, throwing out a couple of mystery bits. Turned off the fan, which was energetically circulating warm air. Got a 20-pound bag of ice from the grocery and put it into the fridge compartment.
Timing is everything in household emergencies. The good news was that we had very little perishable in the refrigerator after the triage. A door full of condiments, of course, drawers full of vegetables and the tail end of a watermelon, but only one package of pastrami in the meat drawer, a little milk, a bit of cheese and a dozen eggs. Only a week ago, what a different story -- four pounds of newly cooked pork, a pound of fresh fish, a big pack of crab cakes, three kinds of lunch meat, the sort of collection that makes you wake up a son in the middle of the night to open his refrigerator for you.
The bad news was that it was Saturday night on Labor Day weekend. Would repairmen come out any time before Tuesday? Did we even want to repair the #@%*& thing? We checked the appliance notebook and discovered it was twelve years old, and recalled that we'd had several run-ins with Sears service people already. The last time they came out, they poked around for a while and finally said "sorry, nothing we can do about it, you'll just have to learn to live with it being way too noisy. That will be $100, please."
My husband made an executive decision: buy a new one. And his vote counted, since he's in charge of repairmen (our theory is that repairmen are more respectful of men than of women, so he deals with roofers, body shops, furnace guys, etc.). Rooting through his magazine piles he discovered that Consumer Reports had covered refrigerators just two months ago.
This morning we traipsed off to look at refrigerators. At our favorite appliance locale there was only one bottom-freezer model on display (bad news) but it was the top-rated model in Consumer Reports (good news). The white model was out of stock and would take nine days to deliver (bad news) but we could get it in stainless steel the next day (good news) for only $125 more (bad news). Or they could bring us the white floor model the next day (good news). And it is sufficiently energy-efficient that we can get a $100 rebate from the power company (good news).
An hour later we were on our way home again, feeling considerably happier than we had been. Every now and then the depraved American consumer culture of too much crap, too many choices and 24/7 instant gratification has its payoffs.