The other day we were visiting friends, and one of the kids asked for a piece of paper to write something down.
Our hostess told him to go to the refrigerator and get some paper out of the top, where the freezer was.
Our son looked at her. I looked at her. My wife looked at her.
She assured us that he would find paper in the compartment where the Häagen-Dazs would normally be.
“It’s a long story,” she said. She got up and opened both the freezer and the refrigerator doors. Inside, very neatly arranged, were stacks of paper, bills and other items. It was an office in a box.
Her refrigerator was now a refilerator. The compressor had stopped working, and while she was waiting to get it fixed, she had started using the space for her papers. After a while, they bought a new refrigerator, which they put in the garage, because the refilerator was so handy to have in the kitchen.
We now have a refilerator, too. Our 3-year-old refrigerator gasped its last gasp, and the repair guy told my wife it’d cost $400 to repair.
Good-bye refrigerator; hello refilerator.
It used to be that the life of a refrigerator was measured in decades, not minutes. When I was growing up, my folks had the same refrigerator from the time I was in seventh grade until after I graduated from college, and they had retired and moved.
Nowadays, a refrigerator is a temporary appliance. In fact, it seems like all appliances are temporary. We had a dishwasher that lasted less than two years. I repaired the handle on it twice and replaced a rack once before I gave up on it.
Here’s the thing: it wasn’t a cheapo dishwasher. Nor was our refrigerator a bargain basement special. They just weren’t designed to last longer than the warranty.
Which, of course, aggravates the heck out of me and, most likely, other folks who are stuck replacing appliances on a regular basis.
On a trip to an appliance store, my wife asked why refrigerators don’t last.
“They’re made to be more efficient,” the helpful sales lady chirped. “They have smaller condensers that run nearly all of time but use much less electricity.”
And commit suicide after a few years, I didn’t say.
“Anyway, I save enough on electricity to afford a new refrigerator,” she said.
Wrong answer. How is it more “efficient” to chuck barely used refrigerators every few years? Won’t that just fill the landfills?
The answer is, these new refrigerators are bright, shiny pieces of planned obsolescence.
I’m tempted to keep our refilerator right where it is and just dig a hole in the backyard to keep food in, like they did in the days before refrigeration.
I’m also tempted to convert each appliance into a filing cabinet as it reaches its shelf life and just do without the “convenience” of having to replace them every few years.
At least then they’ll be good for something.