“I need your help.”
Mama sounded so anxious over the phone.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
She let out an exasperated sigh.
“Our fridge went out.”
“Today, I think,” she said. “It may have been last night. We aren’t sure.”
A storm had knocked their power out about a week or so before. Mama had texted me and I reported it for her online and kept an eye on the outage map to let her know when to expect it back on. When it was still off even though the map showed it restored, I had asked Mama if a breaker had flipped. She wasn’t sure; all she knew was she was sitting in the dark. But here she was, about a week later and her fridge was out. Her coffee maker had gone kaputz a few days before too. I was thinking a power surge had knocked out some of their appliances, but it was far too late to get a surge protector now.
So, here she was, trying to buy a new fridge on a Sunday afternoon.
“Oh, my goodness,” I empathized.
“I got a number from information but no one’s answering. Do you think they are closed because it’s Sunday?”
I knew the big box store was probably open, but information may not have given her the local store number.
“Why didn’t you call me to Google it for you?” I asked as I pulled it up online.
She sighed again.
The last few months have just worn on Mama. On everyone. But when one of your major appliances goes out, a normal pesky inconvenience is magnified when everything else in the world is just cattywompus.
“I didn’t want to bother you,” she said.
“Mama.” It was my turn to sigh. I’d rather her call me than pay who knows what for a directory assistance call.
“Y’all aren’t going out there to look for a new fridge are you?” I asked her.
“Well, Bobby will.”
The last thing my uncle needed to do was go somewhere he may have to stand in line just to get into a store and then hike around it. He is in that high at-risk category and it made me very concerned he was even thinking about it.
“Maybe I can order it online?” I suggested.
“Let me see if he wants to do that,” Mama said.
My uncle was thrilled at this possibility. I’m sure refrigerator shopping is not the way a 73- year old man wants to spend his afternoon.
“Do you have a preference as to what kind you want?”
“This one was a GE,” she began. “It lasted 30 years, so that’ll be fine I suppose.”
We got into a deeper conversation than I have ever had with anyone over an appliance for the next 30 minutes, as I listened to my mother and uncle go back and forth about what size they may need, did they want the ice maker option or water in the door.
“I think we just want a plain one,” Mama said.
To my surprise, the big box store was out of stock.
“How are they out of refrigerators!” Mama exclaimed. “Are fridges the new toilet paper?”
I wasn’t sure. Given the current state of craziness, that would make sense.
“Maybe we can get this one fixed,” Mama mused.
“Didn’t you say that one was 30 years old?” I asked.
“Mama, I know Granny will roll in her grave about this fact, but some things do have to be replaced after 30 years of use.”
Granny once complained she hadn’t gotten her money’s worth out of a car when the odometer passed 200,000 miles and it died. I told her she had truly drove the thing into the ground. She still insisted General Motors owed her some money.
Finally, we found one. I added it to the cart and proceeded to check out until I got to scheduling the delivery.
The earliest was July 6.
“That’s fine,” Mama said.
“Mama, that’s 2 weeks away,” I said.
“We can’t wait that long, Jean,” my uncle said in the background. “We have food that needs to be kept cold.”
“We have a freezer,” she stated.
“We can’t put lettuce in a freezer.”
They debated this for a few minutes, with Mama saying the only thing she was worried about was her bacon and she didn’t think that required a lot of refrigeration. I suddenly realized why my mother was always saying she thought she had a light touch of food poisoning.
“I bet you can get one at Peters & Fosters,” I interjected.
“It’s Sunday,” Mama reminded me, as if I had forgotten in the last 20 minutes.
“Yeah, but I bet they can get you one before July 6th,” I said.
While my mother and uncle discussed, I messaged the store online, asking when they could deliver a new fridge.
Even though it was a Sunday, I was able to get a response. “Tomorrow.”
And they did. It wasn’t a GE though, but a Frigidaire. Either way, Mama’s bacon was going to stay chilled.
The local store that has been in my little hometown for over 60 years, as long as I remember, was able to deliver – literally – when the big box store couldn’t.