Banner photo of Larry Eugene Meredith, Ronald Tipton and Patrick Flynn, 2017.

The good times are memories
In the drinking of elder men...

-- Larry E.
Time II

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Case of the Reluctant Refrigerator or "Waiting for Godot" Redux


Ah Gogo, don't go on like that. Tomorrow everything will be better.


How do you make that out?


Did you not hear what the child said?




He said that Godot was sure to come tomorrow. (Pause.) What do you say to that?


Then all we have to do is to wait on here.

                From Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett

We moved to our present home many years ago on a shoestring with two young girls and a baby boy.  The home was roomy, with a nice sized yard and a huge downstairs family room, making it ideal for people with children. The size and the affordable price came with some sacrifices. Namely accepting that everything wasn't in tiptop shape and beautiful.

The kitchen may have been the most ugly. It was old. The stove was gas and had open flame burners on top of somewhat dubious safety. There was a built-in wall oven, also gas, that worked for perhaps one week after we moved in. There was no dishwasher and a small sink, with a garbage disposal, which quit perhaps a month after the wall oven. The lights were ugly, especially the bizarre yellow and brown chandelier over the eat-in corner. The side walls were covered with a greenish tile and the cabinets were a very heavy dark brown wood, which was beginning to separate.

But it was what we could afford and so we lived with it for a decade and a half. In that time those old heavy cabinet doors, repainted many times and a lighter shade,  began to fall off. We would screw them back up, but their weight and the old splitting wood reached a point where nothing would keep some in place. By the mid-1990s we were cooking in a kitchen Ghetto. Even the refrigerator we had hauled with us from hear and there over the years had lost a handle and looked defeated.

Then the gas range became more erratic and we began to fear either an explosion or dying in our sleep from leaking gas fumes. We could live in this mess no longer. It was time to tear out and rebuild and so I borrowed from my 401K (something that would have repercussions a few years down the road, but that is a tale for another time) and we ordered up a new kitchen.

And so they came and ripped away and all the hanging doors, non-working or dying appliances and threatening ranges were gone. That old gas oven sits forlornly in the rumble waiting to be toted away to the gas range happy baking ground with the old non-working garbage disposal atop it.

Soon the transformation took place.

This was not without hitches, of course, one being a fowl-up on the backsplash for the counters. Somehow it got lost in translation and thus the wallpaper. Eventually the wallpaper was peeled away and the Little Woman got out her tools and tiled the back wall behind the counters. 

Everything was new. We replaced the old gas range and wall oven with an electric range and built-in microwave. We installed a dishwasher and a working garbage disposal. We even got a new refrigerator.

All back in the mid-1990s.

Several months ago our new-now-old refrigerator began to do an odd thing. Water began to puddle on the bottom shelf and in the meat drawer. Just a bit of moisture at first, but over time the water grew deeper and more frequent and we had to be constantly emptying the meat drawer into the sink. I even put in racks on the bottom shelf to keep things above the rising tide. Very annoying and certainly a possible health hazard.

There was also the knowledge that whatever was going wrong, this fridge could stop fridging at anytime. And thus I set out one day to surprise the Little Woman by buying a new refrigerator.

Off I went to a very famous big box store that use to have two names but now goes by only one. It has existed for a long time and was once very famous for catalogues. It was having a refrigerator sale. They had many, many brands and units on display, all with good markdowns.

I had to eliminate many from possibility because of size. We have two cabinets above the space where the unit must go, so this limits the height to less than 68 inches. Not at, but less than 68 inches, and most of the refrigerators I examined were at or above that height.

I also wanted something a bit different from what we had always had, that is a white or almond unit with two big handles on the front. I finally settled on a right sized, black refrigerator and summoned forth a salesman named Babu. 

Babu clicked all the information into the register and then he made that familiar "Hmmm" sound. Hmmm sounds when you are purchasing something are never a good thing.

"Ah," he says, "this particular model is out of stock. Is it an emergency?"

No, it isn't an emergency since it was more of a whim and spur-of-the-moment to come here, but who knows, next week it could be.

"It must be ordered," he says. "Can you wait perhaps 15 days to three weeks for delivery."

"Sure," I say. This is all happening on July 8.

So I buy the black refrigerator and pay for it on a credit card, we shake hands and everybody is happy.  I go home and print a picture of the new black refrigerator off the Web and then I show and tell my wife and now my wife is also happy. Three weeks is not so long to wait. There is a number to check at what time they will show up at the home that you can call the night before delivery. You can also call to see when delivery is scheduled, nice little convenience that.

And so we go on with our lives, dealing with all the other problems that have assaulted us this summer, the leaking faucets and the car inspection and other things I will someday tell you. The three weeks fly by. It is sometime around that fifteenth day and I decided I should call that number and see when delivery is scheduled.

It is all automated. It almost sounds like a real human woman talking to you, but it isn't, but it knows what I want as soon as it answers and says I have a refrigerator scheduled for delivery on August 2.

So okay, that is more like 25 days after I purchased this thing, not 15 or even three weeks. But close enough and I will call Sunday evening next week to get a time frame for the Monday delivery.

We wait out the next week and I come home from work on Friday and there is a message that the store delivery service had called. I call them back and a lady answers, not a mechanized voice, but a real woman with a heavy accent very hard to comprehend compared to the nice clear automated voice. 

"You have a refrigerator scheduled for delivery," she says (I think that was what she said) after I explain I am calling regarding a message, "for August 5," she continues.

What? August 5, I thought it was coming August 2.

"No, no, August 5. You call night before get exact time window. Thank you for shopping..."

Oh well, what the heck. It's only an extra three days. Maybe this is better. I work on Monday, August 2, but I am off on the fifth, so I'll be home for sure when they come. The Little Woman likes it if I can be there for these things even though she is real good of handling such matters.  It just makes her more comfortable.

I do not call on Wednesday evening, I do not pass go, I do not collect $200 dollars, I go straight to jail.

I am up bright and early, as usual, on Thursday morning August 5. I have no idea when they will deliver the refrigerator, but I am not going to wait until the last minute.  The Little Woman had already cleaned most of food from it and we had been eating out almost every night this week rather than buy new groceries until after the new unit arrives.

Still there is stuff remaining.  I carry the frozen items downstairs and push them in our freezer, which is getting pretty much full.

I come back and now I take the milk, eggs, butter, a dozen or so yogurt containers, some cheese and a couple other things and ram these in the small fridge in the computer room. This little fridge is actually my sons and we use it for our personal beverages. He has some beer and soda in it and I have my own soda, chocolate milk, iced tea, water and orange juice there. There isn't much room, but I get the essentials from the kitchen in there as well. Fortunately neither my son or I had stocked up on our drinks lately.

I now remove the kitchen table to allow more room for the delivery guys to maneuver. I take out about a dozen wine and other beverage bottles from the fridge and set them aside on a bench. Now I go out to the shed and get a large plastic tub to put all the condiments from the door shelves in and as I begin this process the phone rings.

It is about 7:o0 in the morning.  I look on the Caller ID and it is the store. Perhaps the refrigerator is this very moment a few miles away and they will be here by 8:00.

I answer the phone and now I am speaking to Anna or something like that, who is another real woman with another real heavy accent and it ain't a Boston accent and it ain't a Georgia drawl and it ain't even a Tennessee twang.  It ain't the King's English either and she is saying something about there was a delay problem with the manufacturer, but the manufacturer does have a refrigerator in their warehouse with my name on it and it will be delivered August 14.

"You call night before, get time window. Thank you for shopping..."

I didn't do well in math in high school, I admit. But I was an accountant for several years. I think I can add and subtract. Tell me what you get, but I get something more than 15 days between July 8 and August 14.

I'm glad they called to tell me. At least I hadn't gotten all the condiments out of the old refrigerator.

I spend the next half hour reversing all I did. All the wine bottles and such, back on their shelf. The milk and eggs and cheese and yogurt back from the computer room. The ice cream back up from the downstairs freezer. The plastic tub back in the storage shed. The kitchen table back where it belongs. The new refrigerator somewhere in limbo.

Now we must wait another 9 days.

Waiting for Frigdot.


Then all we have to do is to wait on here.


Are you mad? We must take cover. (He takes Estragon by the arm.) Come on.
He draws Estragon after him. Estragon yields, then resists. They halt.


(looking at the tree). Pity we haven't got a bit of rope.


Come on. It's cold.
He draws Estragon after him. As before.


Remind me to bring a bit of rope tomorrow.

On Friday the Thirteenth (how is that for foreboding) I again call that number and get the mechanical woman with the gentle voice and that gentle voice says, "You have a refrigerator scheduled for delivery between 4:45 and 6:45 tomorrow..."

"The sun'll come out
So ya gotta hang on 
'Til tomorrow 
Come what may 

Tomorrow! Tomorrow! "


I mean, would you trust it to happen at this point?

I am up bright and early Saturday morning, tomorrow is today, and I have moved the frozen stuff and the essential stuff and the wine bottles and the condiments. I have removed the kitchen table. I have carried a large cedar chest up four steps from the entry way and placed it well out of the way of the delivery people. I have moved the dining room table and chairs to clear the easiest path for them to go. 

I am scrubbing out the innards of the old drippy fridge when the phone rings. It is about 7:00 in the morning. I look at the Caller ID and it is the store, de javu all over again.

Man, oh, man, am I starring in a remake of "Groundhog Day"?

I answer and a male voice with a heavy Spanish accent says, "We are delivering a refrigerator today. Please make sure someone is there between 4:45 and 6:45 this afternoon."

Now, we usually go out to dinner on Saturday evening and this may make us leave late and lose the chance of getting into our favorite restaurant, but who cares if this reluctant refrigerator just shows its face.

A minute or so before 4:00 PM a truck magically appears out front. Two nice Hispanic gentlemen carry -- that's right -- carry out my old fridge and carry in the new fridge. 

Now we must just wait 24 hours for the refrigerator to cool before we can put food in. This I will be doing this afternoon. My one though is, what if it had been an emergency? What if the refrigerator just died? Thirty-seven days without refrigeration would be worse that what they had 100 years ago. 

Black beauty is finally corralled. Welcome to our kitchen Godot.

Samuel Beckett waiting for a refrigerator.


Ron Tipton said...

Frigodot is beautiful though Lar. Absolutely gorgeous. Tell the truth though, when Sears gave you the original delivery date, you didn't actually believe that they would deliver on that date did you? I have never had a delivery on time in my life. NEVER. It's one of the Rules of the Universe. No delivery before it's appointed time. NEVER. I'm glad you got your new refrigerator though.

What's next on the agenda? There has to be something. ;)

Larry, aka The Kid and The Old Goat said...


Actually, there was no stated delivery date, other than fifteen days to three weeks. That in itself seemed a fair amount of time. I really thought in would be toward the outer limit than the earliest, but didn't think it would stretch to almost one month and one week.

What really gave me pause was what if the fridge had simply quit. I guess in that case one would just buy whatever was in stock rather than being selective.