What’s a Little Freon?

Josie Leavitt - August 24, 2015

Every once in a while, stupidity borne of impatience gets the best of me. Like many bookstores, we have a small fridge in the back room. And like many shared fridges, ours got a little funky. There was a horrible smell coming from it and we were all afraid to use it. Afraid, in fact, to open the door, the smell was so bad. I did my best to clean it up one day recently, but the smell grew stronger.  We were all puzzled and were convincing ourselves that something had died in the back room.
Well, nothing died. Instead, there was a pack of marrow bones that I got for my dog that had started to rot in the fridge. Let’s just say, that was a horrible, horrible smell, so bad in fact that propelled a friend of Elizabeth’s to clean the fridge for us when she happened by the store. That friend was awesome to tackle our nasty fridge. But the smell was lingering. We concluded it was in the freezer section, having clung to the mounds of ice that had built up.
We needed to defrost the fridge. No one had ever done this before. I knew we needed towels, so I brought in two from home. But when I looked at how much ice there was I knew those weren’t going to be enough and feared water all over the back office. Elizabeth suggested taking the fridge to the side of the building and defrosting it there. That was probably the best idea. I chose not to do that because I didn’t really want to haul the fridge all over the place. Instead, I did what you’re never supposed to do. I hacked at the two enormous ice blocks with a screwdriver and a hammer. The reason this is not the right method for defrosting became apparent after the hiss and cloud of Freon were released as the biggest piece of ice broke free. My joy at getting the ice was tempered by the knowledge that I had probably just broken the freezer. The last ice block broke apart and I noticed there was a wire that had been frozen in the ice that had come free. This wire looked important. Very important. I suspect it was the temperature sensor. But now I’m scared of this fridge because that loose wire looks like it’s a fire hazard.
I will be buying a new mini fridge today. I am telling myself that it’s not really because I broke the old one, but because that fridge is more than nine years old and it’s probably time to get a new one, and with all the students going back to school, now is a good time to get one cheaply. And this time, I will try to get one without a tiny freezer section.

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