Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Freezer Screams

In my humble opinion, true irritation has not been fully experienced until one has been subjected to the screaming alarm of a freezer. In fact, you may not even know that your unit is capable of such an earsplitting warning, but I’m here to tell you that the manufacturers of the refrigeration system take very seriously the unsolicited thawing of one year old frozen pot roasts.

It seems as though the demise of the appliance always happens when there is not a capable spouse to be found. The same can be said for a kitchen sink leak, toilet overflow or flat tire – all occurrences that cause momentary panic because of the very few occasions a toolbox and I have ever coincided successfully.

In typical fashion, immediate phone calls are made to my husband to report the latest household travesty. In most situations, he can calmly talk me down from the edge of the roof, gently reminding me that water overflowing from the commode is not necessarily life threatening nor does it warrant helicopter rescue. There are even times helpful instruction can be received and implemented effectively if my husband is able to recognize a moment of clarity in yours truly, seizing that brief window of opportunity to direct me towards a temporary fix.

More often than not, and only if it doesn’t interfere with the examination of a patient with medical needs that outweigh my domestic ones, John races home to rescue his housewife in distress. As his truck pulls into our driveway, the clouds slowly part and the angels joyfully sing, foretelling that clean clothes will now be had for everyone because the washing machine repairman has arrived or that toilets will once again flush because the plumber has entered the building.

He can fix anything. Convenient skills learned growing up on a farm that required that he know more than the average bear. John has delivered calves, mended fences, sheared sheep, and once singlehandedly erected a large NASA-like antenna on the top of his family farmhouse, ensuring that Friday night episodes of The Dukes Of Hazard were not missed. There is very little the man can’t do, and I say that in the most biased and non-objectionable manner possible.

So imagine my consternation this morning when I made the bat call to my household hero caped in a white lab coat. Over the shattering noise of the freezer alarm, I relayed the refrigeration emergency to my husband. Unfortunately, an admission of a patient to the hospital superseded the potential damage to my eardrums, and as a result, John would not be able to make it home before the canals in my ears imploded.

“So what should I do?!” I shouted over the increasing racket bellowing from the freezer convulsing in my pantry.

“You can do this,” he replied in the kind doctor voice he often uses with folks stressing about high cholesterol. “Simply go to the breaker box and open it, which will reveal the electric panel of circuit breakers. An electrical overload has probably occurred which means that you will need to flip the appropriate circuit to reinstate the electrical flow.”

Despite all of the clatter reverberating off of the walls, I was able to hear John pretty clearly. However, I didn’t understand one word that he said. Breaker box? Electrical panels? Circuit breakers?

These are not words found in my love language and undoubtedly of no help, in the same way the words North, East, South, and West offer little assistance when driving.

“I just arrived at the hospital so I have to run. Let me know how it works for you.”

I already knew how this was going to work out for me, but I didn’t say it out loud. Somehow it looked like my day was going to involve adornment of the big, red earphones John used to wear to the Darlington Speedway when we lived in South Carolina. Complete coverage of my ears was going to be the only relief to occur for the next few hours because I was about ninety-nine percent sure that it would be easier to dig through his bag of racing paraphernalia - complete with “Peace to 3” koozie, cut off khaki shorts and half eaten bag of beef jerky - to find the cumbersome earphones rather than attempt to locate the breaker box circuit thingy.

Before placing the headphones over my ears, I realized that they were only going to exacerbate the already bad hair day I was having. Did I really need to resort to such dramatic accessories for a little quiet?

With new resolve, I laid the monstrous earphones aside, determined to find the breaker box that would silence the raucous freezer. To my surprise I found it almost immediately, opened the metal door, and then stopped dead in my tracks, my breath momentarily leaving me:

I have never seen so many black switches in all of my life. What in the world? I wasn’t trying to fly an aircraft; I just NEEDED THE NOISE TO STOP. Stat.

Fearing that I just might blow our house to smithereens with all of the manic pushing of mystery buttons, I decided that I should just spend the morning at Starbucks, waiting until John finished with the medical priorities he had chosen over a loved one’s sanity. The nerve.

But that’s when my eagle eye spotted it. In a place hidden deep behind the insubordinate freezer, I zeroed in on the plug. With a snatch that reminded me of a recent baseball catch, I yanked on the cord with more force than necessary, and the wailing of the alarm mercifully stopped.

It was finally silent.

Maybe I am more capable than I give myself credit for. (But evidently not clever enough to remove a preposition from the end of a sentence.) Maybe I am selling myself short when it comes to household mishaps that sometimes just entail more reason than skill to address. From now on, I am going to wholeheartedly try to fix things on my own rather than interrupt the busy day of my spouse and all those lovely sick people. I will take on the temperamental dishwasher, the faulty light switch, and the slow drip from the sink faucet .

And after that, I will erect humongous antennas and deliver baby calves.

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