Dorothy Rosby
Contributing columnist
I don’t mean to brag, but our refrigerator is above average. These days, the average fridge lasts just 14 years. Ours is 26 and still humming along, though it hums a little louder than it did when my husband and I bought it. I’d like to say it’s lasted so long because we’ve taken such good care of it, but I hate to lie this early in a column.
We’ve failed at the little maintenance it requires—cleaning the coils on a regular basis. We don’t have dust bunnies under there; we have dust bulldogs.
Still our old fridge has endured countless ginormous holiday dinners. It survived a move. It withstood a teenager, his friends and five exchange students. This is no small thing. Many teens have a peculiar habit of opening and closing the refrigerator repeatedly as though someone might have made a cheese cake in the last minute and a half. I can assure you, in our home, no one ever has.
The refrigerator does show some signs of aging. Lately it’s developed a wobble as though there are more bulldogs on one side.
The light quit working years ago, and replacing the bulb didn’t help. Food occasionally goes missing in the dark which leads me to accuse my husband of eating the last slice of pizza or chicken drumstick. Then I find it later while I’m crawling around in the fridge with a flashlight looking for something else. My husband is vindicated, though I see no reason to mention it.
Two of the shelves on the door are busted and held in place with duct tape—sort of. If you open the door a little too enthusiastically, condiments fly across the kitchen. It’s as though the fridge is expressing frustration at never having its coils cleaned.
The icemaker has never worked right, but that’s not the refrigerator’s fault. It’s the old-fashioned kind of icemaker—a set of trays that must be filled and returned to the freezer by someone as dependable as the refrigerator.
Still it continues to carry out the most basic functions of a refrigerator: Keeping drinking water cold and preserving leftovers for future generations. It didn’t seem right to replace such a reliable appliance just because it occasionally flings a jar of mustard across the room. Nobody’s perfect.
It was the pandemic that finally motivated us to replace it. We’d loaded our fridge with extra supplies and it occurred to us that now might not be a good time for it to quit without giving notice.
We knew what we wanted. Our new refrigerator should have an icemaker that doesn’t rely on us, a light that works and shelves that don’t fling condiments.
It should be small enough to fit the space we have available but big enough to hold enough food for a holiday feast or an extended quarantine. In other words, it should be small on the outside and big on the inside.
We also wanted it to match at least one of our other appliances. Manufacturers regularly update colors so that when you buy an oven, you’ll be tempted to buy a dishwasher, refrigerator, washer, dryer and handbag to match. We’ve never fallen for this marketing ploy, which explains why our dishwasher is stainless steel and our microwave and stove are almond, though they’re clearly from different batches of almonds.
In the end, we opted for stainless steel, so now we have two of each in our kitchen. I’m sure this violates some interior design principle, but if any visitor ever mentions it, I’ll throw a jar of mustard at them myself.
Meanwhile, we’ve retired our old, loyal refrigerator to the garage where it stores a quarantine supply of frozen food and an assortment of beverages, though none in the shelves on the door. We even vacuumed the coils when we moved it in honor of its many years of devoted service. I suspect it will outlast the new one.