Buy a new refrigerator online and save.
I may not be able to hike at will with any number of trails to choose from, but my refrigerator closes properly.
Over a year ago, I transferred a small bag of frozen strawberries to thaw in my fridge. I carefully set it upright in one of the shelves on the back of the door. The next day, when I went to get milk, I had to pull the fridge door’s handle a bit harder than normal. It felt and sounded as though I was pulling apart Velcro. Once open, I inspected the situation and, yup, the bag of now-thawed strawberries had a hole in it. Sugary strawberry juice coated the shelves and had seeped into the space between my fridge and the grey rubber accordion seal on the door where it had congealed. What a mess.
I cleaned it up, but ever since, my fridge hasn’t closed properly. It doesn't seal. Sometimes I discover it's not really closed at all. I know this lets warm air inside, which is bad for my food and results in my fridge working overtime and using an unnecessary amount of electricity.
I know this is bad for my food and results in my fridge working overtime and using an unnecessary amount of electricity.
I kept thinking, I should do something about it. But who wants to fix a fridge when you could be out hiking or working on a hiking guide or watching TV or playing tiddlywinks? With time on my hands this week I decided it had gone on too long. Enough energy had been wasted. Sufficient care not taken. It was time to buy a new fridge. A better one. A beautiful shiny one. One that would undoubtedly double the value of my house.
As I scanned the Internet for new fridges, I got that almost-as-good-as sex thrill, that new-love-affair flutter. I knew that a new fridge wasn't really going to make me feel better or more beautiful or, for that matter, make any difference to the price of real estate, but I couldn't stop. I can have this, I thought. I can. And won't it be fun when the delivery man arrives and I get to unpack it, and my kitchen will be sooo beautiful and my fridge will actually seal and my food will be happier. And I'll use less electricity. I deserve this. Wowsers!
I wanted that new fridge. And not just that, I needed it. I had to have it.
After spending an hour or more comparing brands and colours (virgin white, slate or silver mist) and finishes (matte or glossy) and styles (French door or side-by-side) and prices (those European models are so sleek), I found the one I wanted. It was gorgeous.
"And won't it be fun when the delivery man arrives and I get to unpack it . . ." [o]
Clicking softly on the Add to Cart button, I placed my new fridge in the shopping cart. I declined the offer to buy extra ice trays that make cubes shaped like little watermelons and pineapples for 40% off the regular price, made sure there was no cost for shipping, recorded the delivery date and then — having paused for a millisecond — closed my eyes and pressed on Check Out.
Up came the screen where I had to enter my credit card number, or at least agree that it ended in 1784. As usual, at this point, I hesitated. I don’t much like parting company with the proceeds from the hiking guides I write for a living. My finger hovered over my mouse. Shouldn’t I check the order again to make sure it’s right? I pushed my chair back from my desk, paused, looked out the window, then went back and double-checked that I’d put the correct fridge in my shopping cart and that my address was accurate and that there was no delivery charge.
With my finger hovering over my mouse once again, I thought, uh, maybe it’s time for a coffee. A friend of mine goes by the rule that before she buys anything online, she has to wait for five minutes or an hour or a day. I can't actually remember how much time she makes herself delay, but long enough to have second sober thoughts. I went to the kitchen to make coffee. This, of course, required me to get milk from my fridge. While doing so, I noticed that as was all too common an occurrence, the fridge door wasn’t closed properly. And the compressor was running — again. I imagined what it would be like to have a fridge that purred softly, one that hugged its door in a tight embrace.
That’s when the little voice mumbled something that I couldn’t quite make out.
Ten minutes later I returned to my office, also known as the dining room table. With coffee in hand, I sat down and woke up my snoozing computer. The screen lit up just where I’d left it: my cursor still over the small circle I needed to fill in to confirm that I was paying with my Mastercard that ended in 1784. I glanced away from the screen. I drank some coffee. I looked out the window again. I swirled the foamy milk that sat atop my latte and took another sip. That’s when the little voice — the one that had been silent until now — mumbled something that I couldn’t quite make out. I knew what it was saying without hearing it: “Wouldn’t the least expensive and most environmentally friendly option be to repair your fridge?” Then it added, louder this time, “How will your conscience be if you don’t at least check out this option?” Okay, you win, I said under my breath as I drained my coffee.
I opened a new tab in Safari and typed "how to repair a fridge that doesn't seal properly." In .97 seconds up came over 6.5 million results. How’s that possible — 6.5 million results? I scrolled down. I didn’t get far. In a box that appeared at the top of the first page of results, it read:
If your fridge won't stay shut, this simple trick will fix it . . .
- Wipe the seal clean with warm, soapy water, and dry it. A micro-fibre cloth would do a good job, but if you only have paper towels handy, use them.
- Apply a small amount of Vaseline. Rub it into the seal. (Credit: Reviewed.com / Cindy Bailen.)
- Close the door.
Not difficult to do, but not nearly as fun as getting a new fridge. It wouldn’t improve the value of my house nor make me more glamorous. But my conscience got the better of me. I decided I owed it to the environment to follow Cindy’s practical advice. I found a micro-fibre cloth in the back of a drawer and located a jar of Vaseline so old it had discoloured to an unhealthy shade of tarnished yellow. Rather than just use soapy water, I upped the ante by squeezing in a dollop of some cleaning product. I got to work. I cleaned, making sure to get between the accordion pleats of the rubber seal. I did it again. Then I got fresh, un-soapy water and wiped it all down, once, twice, three times. I dried everything as best I could. Not wanting to apply Vaseline to a damp surface, I closed my fridge door and to let it dry. By now I knew my shopping cart screen would have expired. So, why rush?
Don't let your appliances spoil your life. . . . "China releases rare footage of tests inside Wuhan coronavirus lab after it was slammed over deadly broken refrigerator seal." [o]
I checked emails, washed a few dishes and sorted the laundry, all the while impatient to test my handiwork — anxious to know if I could buy that new life-changing fridge guilt-free. Likely too soon, and with Vaseline in hand, I approached the kitchen. I studied the seal. Hmm, no telltale gap between seal and fridge. The compressor wasn’t running either. I pulled gently on the door handle. Nothing. I tugged a little harder. Still nothing. Finally, I gave it a good yank, the kind of yank needed to break a seal on something, and voila, my fridge door popped opened.
I’d never have predicted that all it needed was soap, water and a little elbow grease, but my fridge door now sealed shut. I didn’t even need the Vaseline. I tried it a few times. I sat down at my computer again, answered a few more emails, then returned to the kitchen. I could almost hear it pop! as I pulled on the handle.
No delivery. No repairman. No value added to my house. No sleek, almost-as-good-as-sex new fridge. Sure, no glamour, but no hassle either. Just a little soap and water and effort — and time, time and thoughtful care.
And isn't that the way of it during these crazy COVID days? I miss getting together with my family. Can’t wait to order French fries in a restaurant. Want to be able to wander around a hardware store. Hug a friend. I may not be able to hike at my leisure — but my fridge works. ≈ç
NICOLA ROSS is a biologist and author currently fulfilling her dream of being a literary adventure travel writer, while also publishing her series, Loops & Lattes Hiking Guides. She is the author of seven books; her articles have been published in, among many others, The Walrus, Globe and Mail, explore, Mountain Life. She lives in the village where she grew up in the Caledon Hills, north of Toronto. View Nicola's site.