Want to see how this story turned out, Dear Reader? The resolution is at the end
Here is a quote from the first page of my upcoming novel, The Wrong Hill To Die On*:
Alafair Tucker looked down at the body in the ditch and thought that there is no end of trouble and life is but a vale of tears.
No end of trouble indeed.
On Wednesday, July 3, our refrigerator died. I was distressed, but then we had bought the old darling with our first house back in 1981, so I guess we got our money’s worth out of it. I turned, walked directly out the door, drove to Lowe’s, slapped my credit card on the counter, and bought a brand spanking new Whirlpool fridge. Of course, this was the day before Independence Day, so I was not surprised when the saleswoman told me that they could not deliver the next day. In fact, the fridge I wanted was in a warehouse in California, so it would be Monday, the 9th, before it could be delivered. I briefly considered driving several miles to another dealer, but I could visualize myself going all over town and getting the same response. Monday. Because of the holiday.
Okay, we can live out of a cooler for a few days. I scheduled delivery for July 9, between 8:00 a.m. and noon.
So here we are, July 9. Don and I rise early, move furniture to clear a path to the kitchen, and wait. And wait. Noon comes and goes, and I pick up the telephone. After three transfers, I speak to the delivery scheduler (I’ll call him Bill) who informs me that the fridge didn’t come on the truck from California this morning. It’ll be Wednesday. The conversation goes something like this:
Me (attempting to maintain a pleasant tone) : “Why didn’t someone let us know?”
Bill: “Didn’t someone call you?”
Me: “No, and it would have been nice to be informed.” (Still pleasant.) “We’ve already been without a refrigerator for six days.”
Bill: “I’m very sorry about that. It looks like Sue should have called you, but she’s off today.”
Me: “Wednesday is going to be a problem. My husband has a doctor’s appointment mid-morning that day, and the doctor’s office is a long way from our house. It’ll be afternoon before we’re home. At least 2:00, maybe 2:30.”
Bill: (After profuse apology. I’m annoyed, but Bill’s groveling does soothe me somewhat.) I’ll schedule delivery for after 2:30. I’ll be sure someone calls you at 7:00 that morning. Is that okay?”
I agree, after briefly considering the idea of demanding my money back and heading for those aforementioned competitors. But I can’t stand the idea of dealing with it any more. Truth is, the reason we chose Lowe’s in the first place is because they’ve always done very well with delivery and installation. I suppose everyone is allowed one screw-up. I’m sure the holiday didn’t help matters.
How philosophical of me. Still, a dark place in my mind wonders how smoothly Wednesday will go. I hung up the phone and started to cry, much to Don’s distress. I didn’t even feel that bad.
“Don’t worry,” I told him, “It’s just makes me feel better to let it go every once in a while.” (Sniffle. Dab eyes with tissue.) “I do wonder sometimes, though, why is it that nothing is ever easy?”
After a long hard time, even little annoyances take on outsized importance. I find I can’t tolerate the ups and downs like I used to be able to do. Don still has some very bad days, and when that happens, I’m plunged into despair. This is not my normal sunny personality, and I find my own loss of coping skills quite painful. What to do?
That renowned philosopher Roseanne Rosannadanna might answer, “Ms. Casey I know exactly what you’re going through ’cause last Fourth of July, my refrigerator died while I was out of town for a week, and all the meat got this disgusting green slime on it and the milk turned chunky and the smell could have knocked a 747 outta the sky. It was making me sick! I, Roseanne Roseannadanna, was so depressed I thought I was gonna die!
Me: “Roseanne, you’re making ME sick. What is the point of this story?”
Roseanne Rosannadanna: “Donis, it just goes to show you, it’s always something.”
Always something indeed. So you can either roll with the punches or go down for good. And actually it’s kind of fun to live out of a cooler and eat take-out for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It’s just that sometimes you have to shed a couple of tears before you can go on.
How it turned out July 11, 4:00 p.m. – Don saw the doctor at the wound clinic this morning and the word is that his surgery wound is “healing at freight train speed”. After that good news, Don suggested that I stop at the Dairy Queen next to the hospital so he could buy a milkshake! This is the first interest he has shown in food in weeks. I was elated.
It’s a long trip to the wound clinic from our house, so we didn’t get home until about 45 minutes before the deliverers were supposed to show up with the new fridge, but show up they did, right on the money. They hauled out the old model first, and I don’t even want to tell you how the floor underneath it looked. Hint – the fridge has been standing in the same spot for 28 years, since neither of us has ever been able to budge it. Fortunately, there have been some technological advances in refrigerator units since the eighties, and the new model is on wheels! So after the guys plugged it in, I was able to roll it out far enough to get down on my hands and knees and scrub the crud off the tiles. They’re ugly, but they’re clean.
It’ll be several hours before the new fridge is cooled down enough to stock up. It’ll also be several hours before the house cools down again after our having the double patio doors wide open to the 110 degree heat for half an hour. The air conditioner is struggling. I think it will also be several hours before my knees work properly again.
But who’s complaining! All in all everything worked out, and I am not taking that for granted.
The Wrong Hill To Die On, An Alafair Tucker Mystery. Coming in November from Poisoned Pen Press.