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Is your refrigerator running?
Danny  Tyree

If some retro prankster had asked me a week ago, “Is your refrigerator running?,” my reply would have been, “It’s complicated.”

(Actually, I would have reported the scamp to the authorities. In these enlightened times, “Is your refrigerator running?” obviously dredges up traumatic memories of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. Or something. When you factor in all the Name-Brand-Products-Which-Must-Not-Be-Named that have systemically occupied shelf space in such kitchen appliances, it’s enough to make you grab a bottle of aspirin! But the cotton...Aaarrrggghhh!)

A recent power surge fried our coffee maker, shot several light bulbs, made our surge protectors suffer a noble death and conjured an ominous puff of smoke from the refrigerator compressor.

For weeks, the fridge made a valiant effort to carry on as usual, but it was not exactly The Little Engine That Could. (“I think I can, I think I can, I think I can, I think...the vegetable crisper has produced something new for Dr. Fauci to look into.”)

We were in denial for a long time, but the ice cream finally forced us to accept reality. If you’re honest, you recognize that Rocky Roads should not have the consistency of hot asphalt.

Maybe it was my imagination, but the product labels seemed to say, not “Best if used by August 15,” but “Best if used by people with outstanding 911 service.”

This was an old refrigerator, but not old enough to be one of those foolproof pastel-colored models from the seventies. You know, the kind that made bacteria exclaim, “Oh #@$% no! I ain’t goin’ around that thing!”

Having heard my parents’ stories of “hard times” (and having experienced more than my own fair share of power outages and frozen pipes), I frequently pause to give thanks for electricity and modern plumbing. But I know a lot of people would feel weird having to conserve the last vestiges of cool air in a terminally ill refrigerator.

Spoiled, wasteful humans are hardwired to stand there with the refrigerator door wide open, musing, “Okay, I’ve painstakingly selected a type of bread, and a luncheon meat and the perfect I think I’ll stand here and find Waldo!”

After a delay because of Covid-related supply-chain woes, we now have a new refrigerator. It’s nothing fancy; we had no desire for high-tech Internet of Things features. On the other hand, it might be nice to have a sensor that detects feline saliva and bellows, “Be happy with your dry food, you little moochers!”

I was at work when the replacement fridge was delivered, so my wife (after sorting through refrigerator-door sticky notes, receipts and cute elementary-school drawings) had the unenviable task of cleaning up the Bermuda Triangle that existed beneath the old one.

Consumers could probably defray the cost of such big-ticket purchases by contracting with law enforcement. Instead of putting lawbreakers under the jail and throwing away the key, we could put them under the refrigerator and throw away the key – if you can overcome the refrigerator magnets.

I love the convenience of a refrigerator, but the temptation to overstock it to wretched excess does take us far away from our “Give us this day our daily bread” ethic.

Now it’s more like “Give us this day the home address of that Costco clerk who convinced us to buy kale-infused fruitcake in bulk! Are your feet running? They’d better be!”

Danny Tyree welcomes email responses and visits to his Facebook fan page “Tyree’s Tyrades