The Papa Files
by VINCENT CARDEGIN
Award Winning Columnist
For quite a while we had to put towels on the floor in front of the refrigerator because it was leaking. It was a slow leak and didn’t happen all the time. I thought the drain pan (what I call the evaporation tray) that sits on the floor under the fridge was cracked, and so during every defrosting the water escaped. But the fridge kept tricking me. Sometimes I thought it was somehow the ice crusher, so I stopped using that. But the next day it leaked. Then I was certain it was the ice maker, so I shut it off. It still leaked. I kept thinking I could fix it. Empty the fridge, scoot it out, tilt it over, and replaced the tray. But I never did. Dropping towels on the floor was easier.
My wife’s male cat, Stirfry, kept pulling the towel away from the fridge so he could drink the water that flowed along the grout between the tiles. I have no idea why he thinks it’s tastier than the water in his bowel. Maybe cats like water flavored with flooral contaminants. (And yes, that’s “flooral” not floral. New word.) The grout water is certainly tainted with the particulates from human shoes and dogs paws, as well as flavors on the wind from when we keep the kitchen door open while bringing in groceries, and I suspect that airborne droplets of frying bacon, sausage, ham, salami, pepperoni, chorizo, meatballs, and the oil we use when scrambling and frying eggs, have drifted onto the floor and concentrated, in between my wife’s mopping, in front of the fridge.
Hey, that’s a new get-rich-quick idea. Flavored water for cats. I’ll call it Tamiwater, short for conTAMInated water. Besides the Kitchen version, there’ll be Backyard, Laundry Room, Bathroom, and Office, all the places my wife’s cats are not allowed to go. Like candles at Exwork, there can be many versions: Backyard Grass, Backyard Trees; Laundry Room Socks, Shorts, T-Shirts; Bathroom Smells of Many Kinds, and Office Spilled Beer and Ashtrays. Pretty sure the last two won’t be a favorite, but cats are strange that way. Naturally, I won’t bother with dogs because they only like one flavor, Toilet.
Then came the great washing machine flood. After that, water also started leaking out from the right side of the fridge, and faster, so I had to use two towels, or one long beach towel folded around the corner, and change it twice a day. I can only guess that the flood warped the floor under the fridge, and so the leak split in two.
Finally, I called Repair Guy. He pulled the fridge out and discovered a hole in the line connected to the water dispenser. Apparently, the manufacturer had put it together wrong so that the plastic hose was resting against something that was always warm, and over the years a hole slowly developed. He showed me by pushing the dispenser lever, and I saw water spray out like a stationary sprinkler. My wife used the dispenser all the time to fill her large, strawed containers with ice and water, but not on a predictable schedule. Ah-ha!
Repair Guy fixed it, and I was so happy: laundry day for towels went from three a week back to the normal one!
Two days later, the refrigerator’s temperature started going up. In a panic, my wife moved everything to the garage refrigerator and deep freezer. I thought it was the fan. I’d replaced two of those over the years, and from those frustrating experiences I know that fridge fans don’t just stop, they slow down for a while. Called Repair Guy again, and he found that the water from the dispenser hose had corroded the metal pipe for the coolant and was leaking. He did not have that part in his van, so it was two more days before he could fix it. It took him an hour and a half. Soldering was involved. Now we have a leakless and properly chilled refrigerator again, at a fraction of the cost of even a Craigslist used. Thank you, George’s Appliance.
But for some reason, we are not in a hurry to move everything back. We’re filling the fridge slowly, only as needed. The first item I returned to the kitchen was my half-n-half for coffee. Next, I brought in the milk, for late-night cereal, and then deli meats and cheese, for lunch. Later I added my favorite condiments for fish sticks, tarter, cocktail, and horseradish sauce, and then the mustards, and ketchup and barbeque sauces—my wife made slow cooker ribs that weekend. There are now some lettuce and cucumbers in the crisper drawer, and a box of grapes and a bag of apples on the bottom shelf. The freezer is still empty.
Stirfry keeps stopping at the fridge on his way to the cat door and looking and sniffing around hoping for more flavored water.