I have to admit: My heart sank when the delivery guys carried out our old fridge. After serving us faithfully for 24 years, its compressor gave out last month. When we called the GE repairman, he advised us that he could not obtain replacement parts.
“Get a new one,” he said, “twenty-four years is amazing for an appliance.”
Indeed it is. We had felt the dread of having to give it up once before when we shelled out a fair amount of money to have it fixed. Back then, as now, we were reluctant to replace it. Mainly because a fridge of the same size and configuration was impossible to get. But also, I would say, because we were used to it.
How many times had I opened that fridge door? Piled stuff into the freezer? When the kids were small, the fridge door accommodated six gallons of milk! I was used to the sizing of its shelves, and the order we had all settled on of where we stored the cold cuts and the brisket, where we stashed the breads and piled in the bags of frozen fish. And there was the spot in the fridge where we had better not put fruit or a jar of herring as it would freeze solid.
We are always reluctant to give up what we are used to and take a chance on the new.
Of course it is a nuisance to get used to a new appliance. It was quite a chore to find and buy a new fridge. It had to fit into the space and work with the rest of the kitchen. On delivery day it was more work than I expected to transfer all the food stuffs, clean the spot where it stood (for once!), and get the new fridge ready for operation. The amount of plastic film I pulled off the new one was stunning!
But I think my sadness at seeing the old one go was about more than the nuisance and the hassle.
Marie Kondo in her seminal book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up says that “every object has a different role to play” and that we should thank it for what it did for us before discarding it. (p. 60)
When I told a friend that I felt sad when they removed the old fridge, she responded that it was just a thing. a useful machine, that’s all. Is it weird to be attached to an appliance? Maybe attached is too strong of a word. But I definitely felt a twinge when they carried it out the door.
It had been a faithful, if lifeless, servant. And for that I was thankful.
I am also thankful that I had it, and that I have a new one, even if I’m still not comfortable with its shelving or the freezer drawers.
I recently returned from a fabulous trip to Peru. However, on the outskirts of Lima I also saw shantytown after shantytown, where people live in huts without plumbing, and sometimes without electricity, and an appliance like a fridge must be a luxury.
So, thank you, old fridge, for 24 years of faithful service. I’m still a bit sad that we had to give you up…