Those of you who have seen the movie Ghostbusters or happen to live in a rent-stabilized building in New York City will understand the following tale. The rest of you will probably find it entertaining nonetheless…
My refrigerator died June 19th.
Sadly, I am no “Dana Barrett”. There was neither a hot celloist nor a bonafide demon to be found in my sub-bluechip apartment: just me, my husband, two bouts of food poisoning, a slew of rotten food, TWO defunct refrigerators and a parade of idiots whose mission was to “fix” the problem.
The area code of choice for pure evil is 212. The rest of us, e.g., “718-ers” (or worse, “201-ers”) get the “B” Team: no death, no pillars of salt, no wrath of God shit, just an uneasy feeling in your bowels. Thankfully, God saw fit to invent Kaopectate.
After my refrigerator experience, I’d be delighted to have Zuul reside in there. Especially if it meant my dairy products and produce are protected. Narrow-minded folk would call the aforementioned situation extortion, but I call it insurance. This is New York City after all…
Zuul and I could have worked out an arrangement. When I am asleep, he can conjure up the bowels of hell and do whatever Lucifer/Gozer/Whothefuckever does (in the confines of my refrigerator) for the very reasonable price of $500 per month. Plus utilities. Cash only. No pets. Drug and disease free. NO fatties or uglies.
I would be doing Zuul a favor by letting him have a share in my apartment because it is in such a cool neighborhood. Zuul, being a hell beast, should feel honored that I allow him to share my benzene-laden, struggling artist air. Nothing screams authentic artist like Existentialist angst, student loan debt and rejection letters from potential employers. Carcinogens hereabouts are, as Paris Hilton would say, HOT. Iron lungs and chemotherapy are the new black (lung). Geriatric chic is the wave of the future, so strap on your surgical stockings and colostomy bags hipsters and work the irony!
Zuul would not make much noise. Zuul would leave the toilet seat down. Zuul would not invite his girlfriend to stay over indefinitely. And above all things, Zuul would make damn sure my food is refrigerated at 36 degrees.
I am not so lucky. I live in a craptacular building (in a hot location) whose s(t)uperintendent is either a walking study in laziness or abject stupidity. Probably both.
I got a new (READ: refurbished) refrigerator June 24th and it died July 2nd. July 6th I had the pleasure of having two— count ‘em— TWO, repairmen futz with it.
The first one (who I will henceforth refer to as “Chong”) seemed to be high (or very mellow). Chong listened to my explanation of how it croaked (the refrigeration section went first, then the freezer) and he diagnosed the problem very quickly. It needed a new timer. Chong rigged it so I could manually turn the timer until he came back the next day to install a new one. As he left I thanked him, and noting the Texas plates on his car, I asked, “Are you from Texas?” Chong’s answer was “Sort of”. Uh-HUH.
“Sort of“: either the papers for his person, the car he was driving, or probably both, are “iffy”. Frankly, I don’t not give damn if it means I get an operational refrigerator.
Immediately after Chong left, another man (I’ll call him Cheech) knocked on my door. Cheech said he came to fix the refrigerator. I told him Chong had already been by. Cheech leaves.
I get a call. It’s from the S(t)uper. The St(u)pe tells me that Cheech is going to finish the repair job on our refrigerator. I let Cheech in, and shortly thereafter, he proceeded to do things to this appliance that Chong (stoned, but probably licensed) would look dimly upon. Cheech tore into my poor refrigerator with a ferocity that can only attributed to having a few more— or more likely— a few less, chromosomes. The opening sequence to the movie 2001 is not unlike what I beheld, except this primate had an allen wrench. Scary.
Cheech pissed me off. He needed access to an electrical outlet (so he could use a hairdryer to melt the ice caked on the coils in the freezer— a big “no-no” per Chong). I gave Cheech an extension cord and showed him the outlet. He told me to “plug it in”. *A-hem* I am not the one being paid to “fix” this problem. I will provide tools (necessary by virtue of Cheech’s lack of preparation) but I am no man’s handy tool wench. PERIOD.
That’s when I took a tepid bottle of Ruinite into the living room. I stayed in the living room until I could lower my IQ to the necessary level. Twenty minutes later I was summoned into the kitchen by Cheech. He told me that I must leave the fridge on “X” setting and the freezer on “Y”. “Y” is a demarcation on the dial that the manufacturer saw fit not to designate. (What would General Electric know about appliances anyway?) Cheech’s work was a true ghetto-ass masterpiece: one which, strangely enough, does work. For the time being.
July 7th, 5:00 p.m.: Chong comes by to fix my refrigerator. I tell him that it is fixed, but I suspect that Cheech bypassed the timer. Chong looks at it, tells me that it has a timer, gets royally pissed off, and leaves.
I felt bad about this at first, but then I remembered that Chong took one of my flathead screwdrivers. Now when the timer goes off an annoying noise (a noise not unlike what one would normally attribute to shocking lab monkies or the game “Operation”) is generated for my pleasure. At all hours. I’m getting used to it and almost find it comforting. It’s akin to holding up a mirror to an unconscious person’s mouth to determine whether or not he or she is breathing: shrill noise = a working refrigerator. I still would like my screwdriver back though…