I’m afraid I have to issue a correction, because I lied. It goes like this:
“In a recent column, the short guy who ceased to resemble his picture 10 years ago, if ever, stated that he would confine himself to two columns about modern refrigerators. Despite his belief that he could use the subject to illustrate some small, meaningless absurdity about modern life and provide a respite from the obviously significant issues that characterize our times, he thought that two columns would suffice. This is not the case. We apologize for him.”
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, here’s a minor tale about modern appliances and why everything really is better but sometimes you want to cry.
The old fridge was 10 years old, and half the runners that held the various baskets, including the cruelly named lie of a basket called the “crisper” — be honest, it’s the wilter — had broken. You had to shove them in with rude anger to close the door, like stuffing a mad cat into a washing machine.
I found a fridge I liked and ordered it. They said it would be six weeks, at least, because of COVID. I said I’d pay them in two years, because of Ebola. Ha, ha! No? OK, here’s my card.
It arrived right after the cruel snow of late October. The workmen brought it up the stairs with great grunting, then came in to see how they could remove the old fridge. One of them looked at my old fridge and said: “Why are you getting rid of that?”
Dude, you are not here to ogle my old fridge, you’re here to validate my decision to get a new one. What I want to hear is: “Nice old fridge, man, I can tell you’re a fellow with taste, but your new one is so impressive people will point at you as you pass and whisper, ‘There’s a man who looks like he has a Samsung 34E-3327X Model J.’ ”
I showed him the broken baskets that could not be fixed without ruinous expense, the icemaker part that broke because it was plastic and somehow cost 1/15th the cost of the entire fridge, then explained that the compressor probably was a day from dying. He seemed to understand.
Here’s the cool part: The fridge is the same size, but has twice the space. Or so it seems. It was so beautiful and clean and pristine that I immediately forbade anyone in the family from putting anything in it. Perhaps a single apple, wedge of cheese, bottle of wine. But they will be off-limits, understand?
“Where will we put the food?” Wife asked.
“We’ll order takeout. And we’ll eat it all, because I don’t want to see leftover containers in there. It’s too beautiful.”
Anyway. It’s great. It has an icemaker, of course, because limitless ice on demand is one of those things that define our culture. I grew up with ice trays in the freezer. Raise your hand if you remember that horror. Reaching into the freezer compartment, hairy with frost, was like sticking your hand in a Yeti’s mouth. The tray was always stuck. If your hand was wet, it stuck to the metal tray and took off some skin.
Once you had wrestled it from the frosty maw, you pulled the lever to release the cubes, and half of them shattered. If you grew up on this, indoor icemakers are like “Star Trek” replicators.
The old fridge did ice well, I’ll give it that. Push the lever, and a dozen ice-slices tumbled out with almost canine enthusiasm. The new one seems to consider your request: “One, two, three, very well, sir, ice.” I’m getting used to the delay but marvel at the milky hue of the ice.
Then, two days into the new fridge’s residence, no ice came out. Huh. I noticed that the ice button was not lit. The water button was lit. With an icon of a lock.
“Who locked the water?” I shouted, a phrase I had never uttered before in my life, but no one answered.
Well, I’m a man who knows his way around these things, so surely I can figure it out. I studied the controls.
“What are you doing?” Wife asks.
“I think I need a password to get ice,” I muttered.
Long story short: We live in a world of infuriating complexity where your icemaker will not give you ice because someone accidentally enabled the water lock feature, which exists to keep toddlers from putting a brick against the tab and flooding the house, I guess.
But we also live in a world of miracles where I can say to my phone, “How do I unlock the ice on a Samsung fridge? Please, I beg you” and get an answer.
I should note that the fridge can be connected to an app on my phone that sends me a warning about the freezer temp. “Huh, this ice cream has completely melted. Wonder why?”
Better check my phone.