I blame a perfect storm of complacency and multi-tasking. I'm happy and lucky to be spending my 20th year in this comfy office chair -- but after two decades of the same 9-to-5, I can navigate to and from the office entirely on auto-pilot. Some of my co-workers must think I'm an anti-social weirdo because they'll say "hi" and I'll go, "Umm, huh?" The truth is that my brain is just twelve other places -- what songs do I need for my DJ gig this weekend? What should my column be about this week? Do I need to buy cat food?
But there are drawbacks to multi-tasking. Case in point, my dad called me last week. My dad who lives fifty miles away in Galesburg, mind you. He asked me how construction on the new Rock Island police station was coming along.
"Oh," I said, "Yeah, I think they broke ground on it."
"Umm," my dad replied, "I saw on the news that the framework's already mostly up. They've done a lot more than break ground on it."
Normally, this wouldn't be a big deal -- the construction of municipal service buildings isn't something that usually turns up on everyone's radar -- but the new Rock Island police station is being built about two blocks away from my house. I drive past it almost every day, and when last I paid attention, it was a big empty space. I am becoming Mr. Magoo.
If you happened to catch my column last week, you might have read about my recent bout with a nasty flu bug. It was gross and yucky, but thankfully it's done. I'm back to my old self, and I think I'm even done whining about it in print. All at once, my fever broke and my appetite returned. To celebrate, I immediately went to the fridge for a cup of yogurt that I was waiting to eat until I thought my stomach could handle dairy.
But it wasn't until I had grabbed the yogurt, opened it, and swallowed a bite before I noticed two things. (1) This yogurt was room temperature. (2) This yogurt had stopped being yogurt some time ago and was well on its way to becoming an altogether new life form. I really need to learn to be more observant.
A quick inspection confirmed that my trusty refrigerator wasn't refrigerating a thing, and was more like a large storage box for rotting food. Greeeeat. Weirder yet, my top freezer was still working, and the fridge was making its usual contented hum as though everything were just hunky-dory. A mystery was afoot.
That's when I heard a voice in my head -- and it was the voice of Ron, our harried IT specialist here at Castle Argpatch, with his favorite all-time phrase: "Did you try rebooting?" I went downstairs, tripped the circuit breaker to the kitchen, and fired it back up. No luck. And that, friends, concluded the extent of my home appliance repair know-how.
Good thing I just happen to know an excellent repairman. Awkwardly, though, he's also the father of my ex-girlfriend. My ex-girlfriend, incidentally, who just got married to some human being who isn't me. Happily, we're all on good terms, so I didn't think twice about picking up the phone and leaving him a message.
The next call I made, though, was to my FAVORITE dad, to get his take on the situation. Without hesitation, he thought it was time for a new fridge. He had just read an article that pointed out recent advances in energy efficiency that have now turned any refrigerator more than four years old into a power-sucking antique by comparison. Rather than fix the fridge, he urged me to hop online and window shop for a new one.
Quickly, I learned two important things. (1) Refrigerators are ridiculously expensive, and (2) my refrigerator sucks. I mean, it doesn't even have a carbonated water dispenser. What kind of hideously antiquated backwoods life have I been living?
Okay, sure, nothing sounds grosser than a glass of carbonated water, and I'd never ever use that function unless there was a second nozzle that dispensed Coca-Cola syrup, but it's the principle of the thing. There really isn't much one can do to differentiate one refrigerator from another -- after all, it's just a cold box. That'a why the only thing appliance makers can do is keep adding needless toys -- and if there's one thing I like, it's needless toys.
I never realized the position I've been putting myself in. It takes exactly 14 footsteps for me to get from my back door through the kitchen and to the laptop computer sitting on my couch. That's 14 long, arduous, internet-free steps I have to take multiple times each day. 14 steps where I have ABSOLUTELY NO CLUE what Kim Kardashian is doing. Just imagine how many celebrity tweets I'm missing out on just because I have to travel these lonely 14 steps.
Well, thanks to new refrigerator technology, those days could be behind me. Yes, finally they've come out with a smart refrigerator that's wi-fi enabled and has a screen on the fridge door with 24/7 access to Facebook and Twitter. Whew. No more 14 steps of being disconnected from the cybersphere for THIS guy. Now I could finally grab the mustard without missing any important communiques from Lindsay Lohan or Donald Trump. Thanks, science.
Of course, I also don't have the $4000 required for a wi-fi enabled smart fridge. The only thing I can really afford is a standard boring two-door Box o' Cold, and what fun is THAT?
Instead, I had my ex's dad come over, where he popped the back off the freezer and showed me the intricate inner workings of the modern refrigerator. I wanted gizmos and gadgets, circuit boards and insane electronics. At the very least, I expected at least one magical pixie singing the Snow Miser song. Reality's a bit of a let-down. The back of your average freezer consists of an evaporator coil, a cheap little fan that circulates the cold air down to the fridge unit, and a wee little heater that kicks on sporadically to keep things defrosted.
It should NOT, however, be encased in a brick of ice, which was my fridge's problem. We alleviated this with a highly technical portable heating tool -- made by Revlon. That's right, I had to call a professional to blow dry my freezer with a hair dryer. Once the iceberg dissipated, though, it was quickly determined that the thermostat had gone bunk, which was a 5-minute fix that spared my pocketbook about $3900.
Now I just need to drag my lazy, unobservant butt off the couch to go buy some new groceries and I'll be set. The good news, though, is that if you were planning on murdering anyone tonight at Hy-Vee, I'll be the one absent-mindedly stepping over the corpse of your enemy while daydreaming of carbonated water and checking Facebook on my phone.