Monday, January 21, 2008

F is for Frustration and Fridge Freakouts

Sometimes it’s the little things that feel like really big things. Stupid things, things we’ve gotten used to as relatively rich first worlders, and when these little things don’t work the way they should, we are just so put out.

Near the end of November, just about the time several other appliances/vehicles were deciding it was time to break down, my water heater stopped heating water. (It was the best of times.)

Pretty quickly, the guy from the gas service came out, replaced a small part, and voilà! Hot water again! All for only $110! ($10 part, $99 service call.)

On December 19, there was no hot water.

We got service that day. Bad part last time, apparently. No charge.

On January 3, we were again hot-water-free. This time the guy seemed to think they’d gotten a batch of bad parts.

When I made the next call on January 16, I was told that another part was on order for us—the part they suspected was making this tiny little part die every few weeks. No one had told me or Tim that this new part was being ordered. (I’m guessing that maybe it hadn’t been—they were covering, and they were going to order it now.) No one came out on the 16th. No one came out on the 17th, because they still hadn’t gotten the part. “I’d really like some hot water for the weekend,” I said on the 17th. “Could you at least send someone out with the temporary part?”

That same part was replaced on the 18th. We had hot water all weekend long.

Today, after my workout, I filled up the tub for a bath. It was cold.

I called again. There is no word on the part. The woman said that W—’s, their distributor of parts, hadn’t shown up yet, and that she would check. I asked her to call me back today. As she has never called me back, I expect to hear nothing.

That no one seems to be very aggressive about finding this part-on-order makes me feel they are lacking a bit in the customer service department. (The guys who show up to work on the water heater are always nice, though.) The fact that I am calling them all the time should be motivating them to find this part, fix the thing, and shut me up. They can’t be happy about these repeated free house calls. (They better be free.)

I drove a mile to my sister’s and took a bath. I am lucky that I have this option.

It could be much worse. I could have no water. I have water. That’s huge. But it’s winter. It’s too cold for cold showers. I am a spoiled American who has become used to hot water.

Grrrr. Argh.

And speaking of frustrating bourgeois problems and the letter F, I had one of my Fridge Freakouts this weekend (what with actually having hot water, my anxiety had to land somewhere). These occasional panic attacks tend to happen when the refrigerator is very full and when I realize how much of this fullness has to do with jars and jars of condiments.

This may sound strange, but a too-full refrigerator causes me way more anxiety than a near-empty one. (If I were living in poverty, this would not be true. I am aware of the craziness here.) A too-full refrigerator means I can’t see what’s in it. A too-full refrigerator means that in all likelihood, we two people who live here are going to end up throwing food out. I hate throwing food out. It feels wrong.

A too-full refrigerator reminds me of the cluttered home of my family of origin. Let the hyperventilation begin.

The other night, I wanted to cook up some broccoli in hoisin sauce. I searched the refrigerator for this condiment. High and low. Didn’t find it. Opened a new jar, then put that jar in the refrigerator. Hard to find a place for it, what with all those jars.

How much horseradish do we need? (I don’t eat it—we have three open jars of various styles.) How many jars of jam need to be open and kept cool at any one time? When do we eat jam? Well, we better start, goddammit.

I began doing an inventory. The last time I fridgefreaked, I remember being upset by three open jars of capers and five jars of mustard. I am happy to say we are down to no capers and two jars of mustard, but one of them is honey mustard. I hate honey mustard. Tim likes honey mustard, but not enough to eat it, obviously, because it’s still here. I’m sure it’s one of those five from last time.

With some of these condiments, we are talking years.

On the top shelf of the refrigerator: olives, mole sauce, my newly opened hoisin sauce, tropical mango mild salsa, tomato-basil jam, yeast, a tube of concentrated pesto, an open jar of tomato-basil sauce, and butterscotch syrup. In the door: jalapeno jelly, black bean sauce, pepper jelly, chocolate syrup, mayonnaise, lemon juice, lime juice, vegetable broth, Rose’s lime juice, apple butter, lemon-pear marmalata, an unmarked purple jam, tamarind concentrate, butter, Thai peanut sauce, hoisin sauce (hello! there was an open jar after all!), raspberry teriyaki, Tabasco, three salad dressings, maple syrup, tamari, Szechuan spicy stir-fry sauce, prickly pear cactus syrup, those three jars of horseradish, maple chipotle grille sauce, green peppercorns, la tartufata, those two mustards (one grey poupon, one honey), minced garlic, and some unmarked glass jar that Tim opened, sniffed, and declared “some sort of ginger something.”

He did make himself a piece of toast and finish off a cherry jam at the beginning of my freakout, god love him.

Of course, some of these condiments are essential to have around at all times. I just wish that if we opened something, I could have some sort of confidence that it would be used up within a few months or we wouldn’t bother opening it to begin with.

Now I feel I have to be on a mission to eat some of this stuff—to plan my meals around these f#%*ing condiments. I want some order. I want some breathing room.

I want a drink. Those never seem to last long in the fridge.


Bridgett said...

F is for fabulous. Especially that last line. I hope the hot water issue gets resolved...we did a week once with boiling water on the stove when I was a kid. That was an eye opener.

Helen said...

Wow, it sure is (fabulous). I've never heard of a fridge freakout, but if during your next one you want to get rid of anything please send it my way. It sounds like you have some freakin' fantastic foods in that fridge of yours.

I do hope your hot-water problem gets resolved soon. That is a hardship, especially at this time of year.

Indigo Bunting said...

Helen: What's your address? If you don't mind condiments that may be as old as your nephews, I'll box them up and send them your way. Then I won't feel guilty clearing it all out.

Tonight I made a dent in the pesto paste.

Here it is, almost 8:00, and the woman from the gas company didn't call! Who would have guessed that could happen?

We'll see how long it takes before it's really fixed. Tim just boiled water for dishes, Bridgett!

Sewa Yoleme said...

I read this post to Mom. She laughed harder than I've heard her laugh in a long time.

So did I.

She She said...

Oh, I don't feel so alone now. I have condiment jar freakout, too. I've started writing months and years on the lids so I know how long something sits. Maybe I need some professional help!

Sabine said...

I didn't know they made sauce for moles. You Americans think of everything.

Mali said...

Ouch no hot water in winter. My sympathies. Is there no competing business you can ring for help?

AND Your fridge sounds a bit like mine. I no longer feel like the oddity my sister-in-law said I was after wondering why I didn't have room in my fridge for something she gave me.

My problem is yoghurt cartons - I buy new ones and put them at the front, then weeks (sometimes months) later will find the old ones at the back of the fridge which probably by then have some miracle medical cure growing in them.

Deloney said...

I hate appliance meltdown -- I mean when three or more things stop working within a few days of one another. Thankfully it hasn't happened in a few years.

Indigo Bunting said...

SY: Thanks.

She She: Now, why didn't I think of that? I may have to keep a black marker on top of the fridge. The results are sure to be terrifying.

mm: I was waiting for a mole comment. You didn't let me down. I even checked the spelling of mole to be sure there was no accent. Of course, mole sauce is probably more prevalent in the wilds of Vermont. We put it on beaver tail. (Who's blog was that?)

M: I hear you on the yogurt. I keep them all in one spot now, lined up, and usually I don't let myself buy any more until it is all gone.

D: Appliance breakdown seemed to be my December. Two car breakdowns during that time, one heating system, the repeated water heater...

And an update: Still no hot water today, the 23rd. The part, which apparently is being made for us at a factory, is due in by tomorrow, allegedly. We'll see.

Anonymous said...

Oh yuck - no hot water sucks. Occassionally our hot water heater's pilot light goes out and that's no fun. Your hot water issue is rivaling my Comcast issue from the summer.

As for condiments - I don't mind if we have too many open, but my husband gets all weird about it. I never have Fridge Freakouts. Good luck on using up the jars of things.

pk said...

chuck everything out and fill the fridge with booze: every time there is a space fill it with a condiment: after three hours you will have the perfect fridge.

Unknown said...

Sounds a lot like my fridge, and the fridges of all my married friends.

I do try to plan some of my meals keeping in mind the condiments, and some of them even make their way into my coking, provoking comments on the table like: "This is nice, it reminds me of something...I don't exactly know what...."

Indigo Bunting said...

DG: I love that idea...this reminds me of something! I will have to start plotting.