FridgeWatch 2014: Miracles Do Happen

Well, I am a cynic no more. What I thought would be a five or 10-part series on the epic battle to get my landlord to replace our ailing refrigerator is now, a week later, fully and inexplicably resolved.

Tuesday night I got this email:

Regarding the frig. We do have a little bigger frig that fits the opening. It got the freezer that doesn’t buildup ice, and could give you more storage. Could we bring to u tomorrow & you switch over & carry out your old frig for Thur’s big item trash collection? Call to Let me know.

Sidenote: consider this my proposal to change the official spelling of “fridge” to “frig.” It’s just cuter.

When I got the email I showed the email to Dustin and we just sat there repeating ourselves and making aghast noises. “What? What? What’s the catch? He’s just giving us a new frig?”

Before I called the landlord we did the cursory ‘who is calling him?’ dance, not dissimilar from the, ‘who is calling the Thai place to order delivery?’ but a little less fraught because FRIGS FOR EVERYONE! “Okay so I should call him back?” “Sure! Or I can if you want.” “Um, yeah obviously I don’t want to call him.” “Okay.” “Okay.” *no one picks up the phone* *a minute passes* “Wait so are you calling him or am I?” “You are.” “FINE.”

I gave in and called him on his cell phone because I am truly the adult in this relationship (not at all) and told him I could be at home the next day when he dropped off the frig. We agreed that Dustin and I (read: Dustin) could take the old fridge out to the street on Thurs, after we switched everything over from the old one to the new one.

“Or,” my landlord cuts in, “Meaghan, Meaghan. Can you do something for me? There is a Con Edison deal where you call them and they come recycle the fridge and they pay $50. Then you can give me the $50.”

“Um, okay,” I said, trying to keep my eyes on the prize.

“Okay great I will give you the number to call tomorrow.”

“Sure.” I did not point out that this was his frig and if he wants the 50 bucks maybe he should call Con Ed? But whatever. “Oh!” I said, “Um, what time of day are you coming tomorrow?”

“Ummmmm. That I do not know, Meaghan. I have to get my guy.”

“Okay that’s fine, I can work from home. Just call me ahead of time, if anything I’ll be in the neighborhood.”

“Okay okay. Let’s say midday, in the afternoon.”

Great. I thanked him profusely and genuinely for perhaps the first time in our relationship then hung up in disbelief, just a little afraid of what kind of fridge would be rolling into our apartment tomorrow.

Cut to 10:30 the next morning, I am getting a blog post ready at the kitchen table and fretting with Mike Dang about whether or not I need to tell the landlord I am pregnant, or if there is a sweater big enough in the world to hide it, when there is a bang at the door. OH GOD.

I opened it up and my landlord, out of breath, sticks his head into the kitchen. “Meaghan! Clear out the fridge! Let’s switch them over now. Okay?”

“Um. What? I thought we were putting it out tomorrow?” I looked at our fridge, the surface area of which was covered in years of postcards and takeout menus and tacky magnets.

“Let’s do it now!” he says.

“But…I am working — “ I faded out, relenting with an okay fine, and furiously gchatted Mike to let him know my post that day might be a little late. He typed back, “OMG take pictures!” so I just laughed and started flinging the outer and inner contents of our fridge wherever I could find the space, our kitchen descending into chaos.

Just as I finished I heard my landlord barking orders at some poor guy as they struggled through the hallway with the new frig on a dolly. I flung open the door and stood to the side quietly taking photos and sneaking around them to gchat things to Mike.

The best part of course was that the fridge was totally and completely normal. A regular person, regular-sized refrigerator. Barely notable except that the fridge and freezer have totally separate doors, cue angels singing.

Was the fridge clean? No the fridge was not clean. Still, I am in awe.

As the two of them pulled out the 50-year-old relic and handed me the sorts of horrible things that had fallen behind it — wrapping paper, boxes, broomsticks, none of them ours — I watched their faces and tried to discern if anyone had noticed my oddly-shaped midsection.

Why I felt so weird about the whole thing is hard to explain. More than telling him we were having a baby, I resent/ed the idea that he would know whether I told him or not. I still haven’t gotten used to the idea that someone can look at your body and know something about me that I haven’t told them. Just the night before I had been at a reading and a woman I didn’t and still do not know punctuated our small talk with, “And congratulations, by the way!” gesturing toward my stomach. In moments like this there is always a minute before I remember that I am both pregnant and that everyone can tell, and in that moment I am convinced that this woman at a reading or the person at the coffee shop or a guy on the subway is actually a mind reader and knows my innermost thoughts. It is surprisingly off-putting, even though I know people are only being kind, and it’s almost stranger to not acknowledge.

Disclosing or not-disclosing being pregnant to my landlord carries with it all kind of other implications (mostly all the possible ways he could make our life terrible) but when as I stood there in the kitchen watching them hastily sweep out the decades of dirt from under where the fridge had been, I was so happy looking at our new old bottom of the line but totally functional fridge that I threw all of my hesitations out the window and decided I was overreacting. Give him the benefit of the doubt! Let him be a person! Share with him your happy news!

“This is great!” I shouted into the kitchen void. “Also because…we are having a baby!”

My landlord looked up from sweeping and stared at my body with a shocked look on his face. “Is it Dustin’s?” he said. (!!!!!)

The other guy congratulated me profusely while I rearranged things on the kitchen table and I told my landlord that yes, the baby was Dustin’s.

“So are you getting married?” he asked me. I wondered if he had been talking to my mom. I told him that yes we were getting married, and soon, though who knows if that is true and who knows why I felt the need to reassure him.

One of them asked me if this was my first child, and I wondered where they thought I was hiding all my previous children. We stood, all three of us, in a little half circle admiring the new fridge. “A first baby!” they repeated a few times. “Yes!” I said. My landlord suggested I buy some Fantastick to clean out the fridge. Then he gave me a little folded up piece of paper from Con Ed and asked me to call them to get his 50 dollars.

They took out the old fridge, I called the number, and Con Ed told me the offer was only for single to four-family homes (our building has six apartments). I thanked her for letting me know, and thanked the universe I would not have to continue dealing with our antique fridge. By the time I left for the reading last night, it was gone from the sidewalk, and some other poor tenant in the neighborhood will probably get stuck with it in the future.

We, however, are freezing and refrigerating things like kings.