The Well-Traveled Fridge

fridge 0719So we have these animals. You might have heard. Three, at last count. One of them of the canine persuasion, two of them feline, and all of them with their issues, just like the rest of us.

One cat, Na Ki’o, came to us with diabetes and, as we discovered not long after his arrival, pancreatitis. He also once showed high liver values in a blood test, and somewhere along the way he picked up asthma and most recently some additional respiratory thing that crops up in his eye (and nose, when viewed under a vet’s UV light).

Oz the dog came with severe separation anxiety. Whether that was responsible for his sensitive digestive system I don’t know, but he threw up a lot during his early time with us. A lot. And when one vet told us it was perfectly acceptable if he threw up once every five days, we moved on. And on, until we got to Grand Junction and Dr. McClure of Tiara Rado Vet Clinic, who fixed it so that he only throws up on new rugs and right before house showings.

Our biggest problem with Marrakesh is that we never know where he is. He did have one rotten tooth that turned into several that needed to be removed, and he’s forever sporting scabs and the occasional cut, one assumes from tiffs with fellow denizens of the alley.

When you put all this together, it means: three kinds of dry dog food, two kinds of dry cat food, two brands and lots of assorted flavors of wet cat food (shreds and paté), lots of assorted flavors of one brand of wet dog food, 1800 kinds of snacks and one shelf full of medications, plus the refrigerated insulin.

And Lynn’s goal in life is to get all of this out of her kitchen. Sometime soon, hopefully before Aug. 16, she may realize her goal as it moves out of her way and into mine in the laundry room that will be All Things to All People.

Technically, although it pulls me from my high horse, the plan all along was to set up an “animal feeding station” in our new house, and it was always planned for the laundry room, which was much, much larger in its initial iteration and then just kept growing smaller as everyone concerned assured me no one in the world needs that much space for their laundry. (You’ll all see — it’s not nearly as palatial as you all believe, not once you see the way I do laundry.)

A counter is going to be set up, any ol’ day now, with some portion of the cabinet I bought when I failed Tape Measure 101 (so really, my mis-measurement was a cost-saving measure), in the laundry room, and this will be the feeding station, right there next to the washing machine.

Because insulin needs to be refrigerated, along with opened cans of wet pet food, we determined early on that we would need a refrigerator. Dusty has always envisioned a three-foot-tall sort of floor model; Lynn and I were picturing something smaller. After all, we have gone up in size (I think; I hope) on the kitchen fridge, and we still have Lynn’s commercial refrigerator, rarely used but always present in a large footprint in our garage. Plenty of refrigeration already on premises. (Or it will be. Some Day.)

When I went looking, I found — which I can’t find on a 30-second search today for illustrative purposes — a tiny little desktop fridge made to look like a 1950s refrigerator, even coming in hideous colors like light pink and aqua. They accommodate six cans of soda and that’s it, but that’s really all we need. (Not the soda; the pet food equivalent.)

But further reading suggested they are more like coolers than fridges. They plug in but don’t necessarily stay at 40 degrees, and apparently the fans are quite noisy. Because of the insulin, I reluctantly took a pass.

Then I found a 1.7-cubic foot cube at Walmart.com. Walmart is not my favorite store, but neither is Amazon, which isn’t even a store, and Walmart is local (inasmuch as we could use that word with Walmart). It’s a Frigidaire, which is a real brand, and it said it’s Energy Star-rated (not so sure about that) — and it came in black and you can write on the front of it. (I haven’t tested to see if the writing comes off.) And it was less than $80, so it seemed to meet all of our criteria, outside the cute looking-like-a-vintage-fridge component.

Lynn ordered it as a “ship to store,” and then we waited. And waited, and waited.

Our fridge originated near Lynn’s homeland, in Madison, Wisconsin. Here’s where it went after that: Chicago. Gothenburg, Nebraska (I knew someone who originated from there, too). Commerce City, Colorado. Henderson, Colorado.

We were getting close, probably four hours away by truck. Suddenly, our fridge veered, going on the lam. “You’ll never catch me!”

Colfax, Iowa. Burbank, Illinois. For two days — it must be more scenic than I’m imagining. Chicago. Some folks can’t get enough of Chi-town, I guess. Henderson. (I should try to find this on a map. Lynn thinks it’s right next to Commerce City, which is part of the Greater Denver Metropolitan Area.)

At that point I went digging, because Walmart, like every other giant company, really, really doesn’t want to talk to you. At the very bottom of a webpage, in probably 5-point type, I found a “contact” link. More searching, and I found phone, e-mail and chat options.

I don’t know why I always opt for “chat”; they’re incredibly inefficient. But when I get mad, as these sorts of conversations invariably make me, I don’t end up yelling at some hapless clerk like I would on the phone. E-mail? Someone might reply in a week. Or two.

So there I was, chatting with “Juana C.” I’m sure Juana was really “iJuana” (I juana talk to a real person, not a robot), because no one — and I mean no one — speaks in such stilted sentences. Not someone in Bangladesh, or India, or China. I should have saved the chat transcript to give you an example, but you’ll just have to take my word for it: the robots are taking over.

And somehow the Walmart robot talked to a FedEx robot, one named something like Jenie Neime, and FedEx’s chatbot assured the Walmart bot that our fridge would be delivered to the Gunnison store by 6 p.m. last Thursday.

It was not. Which ought to make us feel sort of good, because that means the robots aren’t perfect. Yet.

But this time, instead of taking off from Henderson for other parts unknown, on Friday the refrigerator came to Gunnison and its new home with us. The box was in tatters, with the entire bottom falling out, and one corner of the fridge top seems a tad crimped, but we plugged it in and it seems to work.

I can’t, in 1.7 cubic feet, find the temperature control the instructions assure me exists, but for the test run it was holding at 40. And, in our disposable society and with the cushy life Lynn and I lead, Lynn pointed out it was “only” $80, so if we have to we can try again. Maybe not Walmart and certainly not FedEx, but in the meantime this will make my friend Pete happy: at least one body in our new house is well-traveled. If only it had bought postcards along the way . . .

 

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