Christopherson Column: Teetering at the abyss without a garage fridge

Mike Christopherson
Crookston Times

    A “first-world problem,” defined: “A relatively trivial or minor problem or frustration (implying a contrast with serious problems such as those that may be experienced in the developing world)."

    But you already know the definition, don’t you? I know I do. For most of us, if we’re honest with ourselves, our days are filled with complaints about first-world problems. We just pile them up in heaps, one on top of another.

    Our garage fridge died, and it crippled our very existence. Brought us to our knees.

    Is that not the epitome, the absolute pinnacle of a first-world problem? You have so much delicious food and tasty drinks in your refrigerator and freezer located in your kitchen that you need a spare appliance in your garage for your overflow inventory.

    It’s a tragedy that the late, great comedian George Carlin is not alive to take in all of this...what we’ve become with our mountains of “stuff.” One of Carlin’s priceless, and it turns out, timeless bits was about humans and their “stuff” and how they keep having to find more places to put all of their stuff, because they have to have “more stuff.” He ranted on our obsession with accumulating “stuff” more than 40 years ago. If Carlin were around today and saw all of these massive quonsets on back-lots at the lakes and all of our sheds and our triple-stall garages and all of the storage-unit complexes dotting our landscape like pimples on a teenager…well, it would probably kill him.

    I insist on calling it our garage fridge. Everyone else seems to have no problem calling it a “beer fridge,” but I find I’m wracked with less guilt and shame if I refer to our fridge by where it’s located and not by what typically fills its top shelf.

    My wife a couple of weeks ago came upstairs with a couple of cold ones, but, she noted, they weren’t that cold. Instantly, my blood coursed through my body at absolute zero.    

    I hastily went downstairs and into the garage to investigate. The fridge door was sometimes a bit disagreeable. Had it been left open slightly for a considerable amount of time? Unlikely. I opened the door to continue my probe. The temperature dial was set on “Coldest” as I always insisted it be, enough to freeze any non-alcoholic beverage if left on the top shelf for too long.

    Reaching the limits of my appliance-repair expertise faster than it takes a human to blink, I did what everyone faced with a glitchy, malfunctioning device does these days: I unplugged it for 10 seconds and plugged it back in, to no avail. This wasn’t a wi-fi modem, after all.

    The fridge was “running” because I could hear its telltale hum, but it wasn’t working. A couple hours later my wife confirmed that our very survival was on the brink when she went to get some venison sausage from the garage fridge’s freezer and noticed things were starting to thaw. Good thing we had a still-properly-functioning chest freezer right next to the fridge to transfer things to, but it was a tight fit, squeezing everything from the fridge’s freezer in there. (See what I mean about first-world problems multiplying?)

    This was on a Saturday, mid-afternoon. I was surfing for refrigerators 10 minutes later and actually thought that I could order one and have it delivered before the close of business that day. I don’t know if it’s more of these supply-chain troubles our society and economy are struggling with post-pandemic, but I was absolutely floored – in fact I double-checked and triple-checked and quadruple-checked – when I realized our new fridge wouldn’t be delivered for almost two weeks.

    Two weeks to wait for a new garage fridge?! (Another absolutely fat, hanging-curveball-right-over-the-middle-of-the-plate first-world problem.)

    We bought ice. Big bags, not the little five-pounders. We dragged our two big coolers out of one of the closets in the garage and loaded both up with everything that had been in that fridge. A couple days later, we bought more ice. A couple days later, still more ice, because, you know, these are Coleman coolers we’re talking about, in which ice actually melts after a day or two. My wife says I have to wait until Christmas or something to get a Yeti cooler that keeps ice frozen for, like, two years. (This is an even more obnoxious “problem,” like a half-world problem.)

    But, finally, salvation. Two nice delivery guys brought us our new, very basic but functional garage fridge and it was plugged in and cooling things down in no time. We could finally exhale. No more living out of coolers!

    Then, soon after they drove off in their delivery truck, I saw it, about halfway down the front of the fridge...a dent and scratch a little more than an inch long.

    Everyone, on the count of three: First-world problem...

Crookston Cartoon Commentary by Trey Everett