Buying a Refrigerator

On my infrequent flights, I often am glued to my window as we are landing. Down there are row after row of houses. I think I could fairly confidently say that each one has at least one refrigerator in it. I never gave that concept much thought until Alice and I were sitting in the boarding area for our flight to Miami at O’Hare Airport in Chicago.

One of our fellow passengers was engaged in a lengthy loud verbal battle over a refrigerator. This woman summers in Chicago, but winters, to the best of my recollection, near mile 66 in the Florida Keys. This woman, like many of us, uses a smart phone to communicate. Unlike many of us, she speaks in a very loud voice on her phone, and often puts the phone on speaker.

There is little in the way of entertainment available when you are waiting for a flight, which is perhaps why this woman chose her method of communication. Maybe she was hired by the airline to keep us all occupied while we waited for our flight to board.

This woman really needed a refrigerator, had ordered one, and had arranged to have it delivered later in the day after she arrived from Chicago. The store that she bought it from attempted to deliver the fridge that morning, when she was, of course, still in Chicago. She read them a loud riot act for some time for daring to mistake the delivery time. This went on for some time. I would characterize her behavior as bridge-burning, in that if she ever tried to buy something from that store again, they would likely call the police on her.

Once that call was completed, we thought we might be able to return to whatever it was we had been doing, but we were wrong. She was determined to order another refrigerator. I felt as though I was in the midst of an Agatha Christie novel plot, where thread after thread was explored, until the right one finally exerted itself. We (I say we because by now, this was a group effort) called numerous places looking for a fridge, and for some reason, none of them worked out. We thought we had it once, but the people doing the delivery only offered to drop it off in the driveway. Rats. A couple of places had clerks that seemed not to speak English. Several did not deliver at all. We were rooting for her to strike gold, but every path she took led to a dead end.

Which made me think about all those houses I see from the airliner window. Did every refrigerator in the houses visible from the air come at such a high price in terms of loud phone persistence? If so we are probably talking more hours of effort expended in ordering and getting the thing delivered than were necessary to build it in the first place.

I was sitting next to her as we were getting ready to board, and we struck up a conversation. That was when I learned she summered in Chicago. I told her we lived north of Chicago about 400 miles, and gave her some idea of the cold and snow we encounter.

“Is it really that bad?” she asked me.

“I don’t remember saying it was bad,” I told her. “We like the seasons and the challenges they bring.”

She looked at me skeptically.

“And,” I thought to myself, “we have a perfectly functioning refrigerator waiting for us when we get home.”

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