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Behold! We are the proud owners of a refrigerator.
For nearly a month, Heath and I have been living without a refrigerator. We tried everything to fix our 20-year-old fridge, but with such an antique, nothing could bring it back to life. We used the small freezer compartment as an ice box. We left our cooler in Texas under the arrogant assumption that we had a refrigerator, why would we pack a cooler?
We packed ice into Zip-Loc bags, hoping they would contain the ice as it melted, and packed our milk, eggs, bacon, and other foods on top of the ice. It worked out okay, except that we now needed to visit a grocery store daily in order to buy ice and buy groceries. Our small space limited our options. Plus, now we often ran out of towels since we were nightly soaking up the day’s melted ice.
Buying a new RV fridge was out of the question as some of them run upwards of $2,000. A propane fridge wasn’t an option, since our copper gas line broke during the first removal of the fridge. It’s properly plugged (thank God for friendly RV neighbors), but we would need to fix the gas line and replace a fridge, which is way out of our price range.
This left us with the option of an apartment or dorm sized fridge. We would have less space and it wouldn’t properly fit into the cabinet for our old fridge, but it would actually run. If nothing else, ice for the next three months would cost more than buying a small, working fridge.
On Monday, as soon as our paycheck came through, we drove straight to Home Depot to pick up a fridge. Chris, the older gentleman in the home appliance section directed us to the back wall of the store where two options of refrigerators sat on the floor.
“Don’t get attached to that one,” he said pointing at the sleek model Heath and I were admiring. “We’re out of stock.”
We turned around and decided on our only other option, a slightly bigger but more expensive model. We explained our situation to Chris, who gave us the name of a local recycling center where we would need to sell our old fridge.
As the three of us walked to the front of the store, with Chris towing our refrigerator in a dolly, Heath and I realized something.
Problem #1: Our broken fridge is still screwed into the wall in our RV.
Problem #2: The freezer is full of food and ice.
Problem #3: It’s too heavy for Heath to remove on his own.
Problem #4: Where are we going to put this new fridge until we can get the first one removed?
I googled “where to recycle your refrigerator in Maine” which yielded a lot of confusing webpages, when Chris spoke up.
“I’ll take it,” he said, as if reading my worried mind. He said he works on refrigerators in his spare time and he could try to fix it and resell it. “We’ll put it in the bed of my truck.”
Heath ran outside to begin unscrewing our fridge while I purchased our fancy new appliance. We moved all of our food into our kitchen sink and covered it with the bags of ice. Chris climbed into the RV and helped Heath lift our behemoth fridge out of its cabinet and set it on the floor. I smiled as I watched them work, grateful to have Chris solving all of our problems, when…
Problem #5: It’s too big to fit through the door.
After a few minutes of trying, it was clear: This broken, smelly, terrible fridge was about an inch too wide for our door frame. Plus, with the awkward angles in our front cabin, we couldn’t take the fridge out our front doors either. It was stuck in the middle of our kitchen, with no way out.
“What about that window?” I spoke up. “It’s the only one that opens all the way.”
Chris whipped out his tape measure.
The window: 26 x 24
Our fridge: 25 x 24
Heath and Chris lifted the fridge together, resting it on the window sill to then reposition themselves outside to catch it. I watched our huge, 20-year-old fridge slide easily out our window (causing the minor casualty of our blinds, a necessary fatality for the sake of cold food) and roll away forever.
An immediate sense of relief washed over me. A few nights ago, when we suddenly realized we had forgotten to buy ice that day, we had to store our food outside to stay cool, or throw it all out. (Thanks, Maine for being near-freezing cold).
A refrigerator isn’t something you think about, until you suddenly don’t have one. It’s a comfort I’m unwilling to live without again. And it’s something that I still wouldn’t have if it weren’t for a few extremely helpful people, like Chris.
He told us he recently took the job at Home Depot to return to school to finish his Bachelor’s degree in funeral home management, which is the type of work he’s done for many years. Chris is probably in his late-fifties.
Right now, my work revolves around filming and meeting hourly workers across the country. We hear their stories and work alongside them, often making instant friendships.
Here we were, without any cameras running, just your average kids, meeting and learning about an extraordinary hourly worker at the Home Depot in Biddeford, Maine. I wish I would’ve filmed the entire interaction to show off this incredible man who went above and beyond his job description to help us out. I wish I could do something to show him how much his help meant to us.
The hourly workers, the random strangers we meet who help us at RV parks, and the problems we face on a weekly basis are all part of a greater epic that is now my life. These sometimes dire situations helped me grow from a girl who couldn’t live without Netflix to one that regularly (and sometimes, patiently) deals with dial up internet at RV parks across America. It may sound like a small example of personal growth, but it speaks for something larger in my life and what I’ve come to know is this:
I face more problems in my life now than I did before I set off on this adventure, there is no doubting that. I think I used to believe that once I was working towards my dreams, things would become easier and the universe would all converge together to make my dream a reality.
A life built on pursuing dreams isn’t easy, in fact it’s a lot harder. Sometimes it means working at Home Depot, carrying a 100+ lb. fridge out of an RV window while going back to school. Sometimes it revolves around packing ice in a broken fridge every day, but these are memories I wouldn’t change for the world. They are the very obstacles that are enabling me to grow, adapt, and become a better person than I could have never been if I had taken the easy way out.