Refrigerator repair conjures up visions of a cold, cold world

Kevin Cowherd

September 10, 1993|By Kevin Cowherd

The problem began the other evening when, bone-weary from another rough day in front of the word processor, I went to the kitchen for a beer and discovered the refrigerator was no longer refrigerating.

The beer was not chilled. The milk was not chilled. The fruit was not chilled.

This I recognized as a very bad sign.

As I stood there with the door open, peering in at the food that was now spoiling, I had a vision.

In this vision, I saw a table piled high with stacks of hundred dollar bills.

The table was near an open window. A man seated at the table was counting the money.

Suddenly, a stiff breeze came along and began blowing the money out the window. The man jumped up and tried to close the window, but it was too late. Now the money was gushing out in a gale force wind and the man was sobbing hysterically.

When the vision disappeared, I needed a beer very badly. But the beer was warm, so I went upstairs to bed, hoping the refrigerator problem would somehow resolve itself.

Of course, that was not to be. By the next morning, the inside of the refrigerator gave off the faint aroma of a slum in Panama City.

This caused me to open the Yellow Pages and look under "Refrigerators and Freezers -- Service and Repair."

There were many ads promising cheerful service, expert repairs on all makes and models, genuine parts, etc. I was willing to settle for surliness, shoddy workmanship and cheap, knock-off parts if the price was low enough.

Finally, I chose a number at random and dialed. A woman answered the phone. She was cheerful at first. But as I described the problem with my refrigerator, her tone of voice changed dramatically, as if I were talking about a very sick relative.

"It doesn't sound good," she said.

"No," I said. "It certainly doesn't."

"We'll send a technician, hon," she promised.

As I hung up the phone, I had another vision.

In this vision, I saw myself entering a brightly-lit room filled with people. I was smoking a big Havana cigar and wearing an expensive suit. Hundred-dollar bills were sticking out of my jacket cuffs, my breast pocket, the pockets of my trousers.

Everyone was happy to see me. A band was playing. Confetti was being tossed in the air. And now everyone was surging around me, laughing and grabbing at the $100 bills. I kept yelling for them to stop, but they wouldn't.

The vision left me badly shaken. I went for a long walk. A Labrador retriever on a leash ran up and clamped its teeth around my pants leg.

"Oh, Coco won't bite," the dog's owner assured me. "She's just )) getting to know you."

"My refrigerator's on the blink," I said. "Tell Coco to let go or I'll bash her head with a shovel."

Later that afternoon, a small red van pulled into my driveway. A big, beefy man named Hal got out. He said he was here to fix the refrigerator. He seemed in a wonderful mood.

"Looks like the defrost timer's shot," he said finally.

"Yes," I said. "It certainly does."

"Might be a problem with the compressor, too."

"Yes, yes, the compressor," I said.

As I stood there looking over Hal's shoulder, I had another vision.

By now the visions were coming so rapidly that I may well have been hallucinating.

In this vision, I was standing on the roof of a tall office building with a satchel in my arms. Down below a screaming mob had gathered. Now I was opening the satchel and emptying its contents, a stream of 10s, 20s and 50s all fluttering downward toward the shrieking crowd.

When the vision ended, Hal was looking at me curiously. He asked if everything was all right.

"Fine, fine," I said.

One hour later, Hal began gathering up his tools.

He handed me a bill. The bill was for $215.98.

The room was spinning now, but there was no sense telling Hal. He wasn't a medical doctor, even though he charged like one.

"You're lucky," he said. "It could have been a lot worse."

I needed to go for another walk. But there was no telling if Coco was still out there, and if so, what kind of mood she was in.

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