“Dad,” my daughter said on the phone. “There’s yellow oil coming out from under my refrigerator. Is that bad?”
“It’s not good,” I answered. “How old is the fridge?”
“I don’t know, but it was seventeen years old when we bought the place three years ago.”
Did I mention my daughter is an accountant?
“What do you think it is?” she asked.
“I don’t know. My guess is that it could be freeon.”
“It’s the liquid that circulates inside the fridge and keeps it cool,” I said. “You’d better have your husband look at it.”
“But he’s at work and won’t be home for hours. Can you come over and look at it?”
I wasn’t sure what I could do. Did I mention I am a writer? But I agreed.
When I got there, I looked the situation over. My daughter was right—yellow oil was oozing out from underneath the refrigerator. It had the consistency of sewing machine oil.
“What are we going to do?” my daughter asked.
“Well, the first thing is to pull out the fridge and look behind it to see if we can figure out where it’s leaking.”
When I pulled the refigerator out, I discovered the floor behind it was covered with a small pool of oil, cat kibble, several pens, assorted small household items, and enough dust to assemble a small animal.
“When was the last time you cleaned behind here?” I asked.
“You’re supposed to clean behind the fridge?” my daughter asked.
Did I mention she is an accountant?
When I had finished cleaning up the mess, I carefully inspected the motor, the pipes and everything else. Nothing. I couldn’t find anywhere where the yellow oil was leaking from.
“Dad,” my daughter said. “There’s oil still leaking at the front of the fridge.”
I looked. Two small pools of oil had formed at the front corners of the refrigerator in the middle of the kitchen floor. I looked under the fridge from the front. Oil was dripping from the two corners, but I couldn’t see where it was coming from.
“It must be leaking somewhere inside the walls of the fridge,” I said.
“What are we going to do?”
“I’m stumped. I need help,” I said. Did I mention I am a writer?
I called Rick’s Appliance Repair and described the situation.
“Where could it be leaking from?” I asked.
“Sounds to me like it could be something spilled inside the fridge,” Rick said.
“No. We looked inside. There’s nothing spilled or leaking,” I said. “If the freeon is leaking out, is there any danger of the motor overheating and starting a fire?”
“Oh, sure,” Rick said. “There’s always a danger of that.”
“What should we do?”
“How old is the fridge?” Rick asked.
“I don’t know, but it was seventeen years old when my daughter bought the place three years ago.”
Did I mention I am a writer?
“It’s not worth fixing,” Rick said. “Buy a new one.” He hung up.
“But I can’t afford a new fridge,” my daughter wailed.
“You can’t afford not to have a refrigerator,” I said. “A new one will cost about five hundred dollars. If it lasts twenty years, that’s twenty-five dollars a year. Refrigerators are cheap.”
“You should know,” she said.
Did I mention my daughter is a sarcastic accountant?
While she went to check out the cost of new refrigerators on-line, I stood there pondering the situation. I looked over the scene—the pool of yellow oil on the floor, the refrigerator, the ice cream box on top of the refrigerator.”
I called my daughter. “How long has that been there?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” she answered.
I gingerly carried the ice cream box over to the sink and opened it. The ice cream had separated. There was nothing left in the box but a white frothy substance. The yellow oil had leaked out of the box, run down the seal between the door and the refrigerator and dripped onto the floor at the two front corners.
At least my daughter had someone to blame. She can’t reach the top of the fridge. And she’s married. It was her husband’s fault.
He’s only been married three years, but he’s learned at least this much. It’s always the husband’s fault.
“Now I don’t have any ice cream,” my daughter complained.
“Well, at least you have a working refrigerator,” I answered.
I cleaned up the rest of the oil, pushed the refrigerator back into place and went home.
“Were you able to fix the refrigerator?” my wife asked.
“Of course,” I answered. “I’m a real handyman.”
Did I mention I am a writer—of fiction?