The ice cream in my freezer kept getting softer and softer, to the point where it felt almost like soft-serve in a pint, and while I could lie to myself, try to ignore my problems and think about how cool it was to always have soft ice cream on hand, eventually the decline in freeze got to the point where I needed to do something, I had to like look up something on the Internet or call up somebody to come and take a look at what was going on.
Even this thought took a couple of weeks to really plant itself in my head. Slightly above temperature ice cream is one thing, but that box of frozen hamburger patties? How long could I really continue to enjoy this stuff without worrying about all of the harmful bacteria that might start to take advantage of my less that optimally functioning freezer?
Still, there was so much inertia, I couldn’t stand to let another day go by without taking care of the problem, but I was frozen, unable to think of how I’d go from not doing anything about it to doing something, anything.
I think the root of it had to do with my not-so-irrational fear of freezers. That sounds crazy, but it’s not, it comes from a real, traumatic experience. My wife and I were living in Ecuador as Peace Corps Volunteers. We had this cheap-o refrigerator, so wildly out of synch with what we were used to dealing with back home. This thing didn’t have whatever our modern freezers have that prevents frost from accumulating and building up along the sides of the walls.
Again, it was this slow issue that never really warranted immediate action, but left undealt with, it was like one day we couldn’t close the freezer door anymore, the ice had literally snowballed it’s way into becoming this problem that had to be addressed immediately.
And so, with no Internet to look up how to take care of something that I would have never had to deal with back home, I imagined a reasonable course of action involved me taking a kitchen knife to the inside of the freezer, stabbing at the chunks of ice until I’d shaved off enough space for the door to close.
In retrospect, of course this seems like a stupid idea. You don’t just go hacking away at your problems. But at the time, I thought, OK, I’m getting somewhere, ice is falling off, this shouldn’t take too much longer.
But it’s an awkward stance, kind of half crouching down, jabbing my arm in an upside-down upward motion inside of a small frozen box. I hit something, I knew I had made a big mistake because it started hissing, a stream of gas blowing out of the freezer. I thought, that had to be the Freon, all of this gas leaking, this is what’s keeping everything cold.
I had to stop it. I had some silicon glue lying around and figured I’d stick my head in there and try to plug everything up. There were bubbles involved. I’d think I had everything patched up when there’d be a pop, more expelled gas. Finally the hissing stopped, and even though I had my fingers crossed, a few hours later it was obvious that both the fridge and the freezer no longer functioned in keeping anything below room temperature.
It was a nightmare, getting this thing fixed, it was like a whole month and a half with no refrigerator. I felt like a caveman. My wife was pissed. I’m still haunted by this story, every time there’s any sort of kitchen problem, it always comes down to me trying to stab my way out of everything. And that’s not even mentioning the paranoia I still suffer as a result of having probably breathed in way too much Freon. It never occurred to me that maybe I shouldn’t be sharing a two by two foot box with all of that leaking gas. What are the long term effects? Do my lungs seem cold to anyone else?
So it was with this fear that I approached my current freezer dilemma. Fortunately, the Internet told me that before I called in a serviceman to charge me several hundred dollars, all I had to do was first clean out the vent behind the appliance. Apparently it’s a dust-trap, and after a couple of years of neglecting to be cleaned, this build-up can cause the cold to be not so cold.
But again, moving the fridge was this impossible chore, jostling it into a position in which I could at least see the back. There was dust everywhere, that patch of unseen floor was practically blackened with soot. And when I finally got to where I was in a position that I could maybe do something about it, I realized that I didn’t have a vacuum, and that my dust-buster was out of battery.
I made a weak attempt at wiping off the grate with some paper towels, but there was so much more dust that I didn’t really accomplish anything. Still, what was I going to do? I moved everything back into place and set the dust-buster to charge.
The whole thing took me like fifteen minutes. I’m worried that it’s going to be another two weeks before I find the motivation to attempt the cleaning again. And there are so many variables. Will the dust-buster still have any battery? Would the half-assed cleaning with the paper towel somehow have been enough to prevent me from trying again? Why do I keep fighting the urge to grab a kitchen knife?
I don’t know, man, I’ve got to commit to some action, my ice cream’s like soup, like not totally runny yet, but definitely less than soft-serve, and the frozen patties are starting to look a little gray.