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Sultan: We bought 5 refrigerators in a month in an appliance apocalypse

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Mini fridge

 A small college fridge to keep the essentials. 

About six months ago, our refrigerator began warning me about an impending disaster.

It sounded like someone was strumming a guitar inside of it. I posted about this unusual appliance behavior on Twitter and asked: If I chose to ignore it, would it stop?

A few wise souls said this was likely the end of the line for our stalwart JennAir fridge, which was going on its 16th year. I chose to ignore them.

A couple of months later, I noticed Jenn wasn’t cooling the way she should. Rather than face the writing on the wall, I followed the advice of a friend who suggested unplugging it for 24 hours and restarting it. Like rebooting a computer, I thought.

To my great delight, this trick worked. Jenn just needed a little rest. Remember when appliances lasted an entire lifetime?

Well, that was a different era. Two days before we were hosting a dinner for two dozen people in our home, Jenn died. No amount of resuscitation could save her. We moved some of the food into a spare freezer, set up coolers filled with ice in the kitchen and took a few trays of food for the party to a neighbor’s house.

My husband and I ran to the nearest appliance store, arriving 15 minutes before it closed. We had written down the dimensions of our fridge and told the salesman we needed something that could be delivered in two days. He was more than happy to sell us a Bosch that was much fancier than Jenn.

The key selling point for me was that it would arrive Saturday morning, and our guests would arrive Saturday evening. For two days, we ate out of the coolers, and I awaited Bosch’s arrival.

That morning, I was giddy with anticipation. It was remarkable that we had been able to make such a large purchase so quickly and despite supply chain disruption have it delivered to our door in two days.

What a great country.

The delivery men were sliding Bosch into the empty space, and right before it fell into place, the top of the fridge hit the top of the overhead kitchen cabinets. It turns out the fridge was about an inch too tall. In our haste to make the purchase, neither of us nor the salesman checked the height dimensions we had shared with him.

I will spare you the details of my reaction.

The fridge went back to the store seven hours before our guests were to arrive.

My husband hurried to the nearest big box home improvement store to buy a mini-fridge, so we would have something for the party. We could keep it as a backup in the basement afterward.

There was one left in stock. When he unboxed it, we noticed it was missing a plastic peg that belonged on the top right corner.

You can return it after the party, I said.

A side note about my mental state before I host guests in my home: It’s fair to say I’m in a heightened emotional state striving for absolute perfection in the home’s appearance and near the verge of taking down any family member in my way. It’s not a safe space for a spouse or grown child.

Of course, our guests were good natured and gracious about our fridge snafu, and even I managed to laugh about it later.

The next day we were supposed to leave for a family vacation, but we stayed back to deal with our unresolved appliance crisis. There was no replacement available at four different stores we visited for the broken small fridge.

“This is the worst vacation ever,” my husband said, as we drove in the heat from store to store during the Fourth of July sales weekend.

At our fifth and final stop, harried, tired and hungry, we struck gold.

We found a basic, compact-style fridge on sale for a few hundred dollars. This big box retailer also had a regular-sized LG fridge on sale. My husband measured the height and width three times — just to be safe.

I quoted back to him a Kinks lyric he’s fond of saying to me: “Paranoia will destroy ya.”

It would take about three weeks for the new kitchen fridge to arrive, but we could drive home with the small one, which would live in the basement as a spare and work as a temporary fix. We took off to Michigan for our vacation congratulating ourselves on our great luck.

When delivery day arrived, I was again filled with hope. You don’t realize how much a family of four, including two teenagers, relies on a normal-sized fridge until you don’t have one. Also, I had invited a group of women over for brunch in two days. I was thankful that my kitchen would be restored to a presentable state.

The delivery men assembled the door handles and pushed the LG into the open spot. The height and width fit perfectly.

The depth did not.

The fridge protruded nearly nine inches from the ridge of the side cabinets.

I called my husband at work, in shock about this turn of events.

“I think I’m going to be sick,” he said.

How did we manage to raise two children and function as adults for several decades when we could not even properly buy a fridge, I asked.

We raced back to the store that evening and explained our predicament. The salesman said we could purchase a new counter-depth fridge and return the other one.

So, we bought our fifth fridge. It’s not even as fancy as Jenn was, nowhere near the Bosch. And it would not arrive until after my upcoming party. Maybe this was a lesson in the futility of social perfectionism and focusing on the details that really matter — appliance measurements.

As we await the delivery of the final fridge, another kitchen appliance caught our attention.

Half the burners on our stove have stopped working.


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