1-800 – Fix the Damn Fridge

“When you care deeply about someone or something, repairs are worth your investment of time, energy, effort, heart, and resources. Whether it is to repair a broken trust or a damaged relationship, take the initiative to make it right and make it better.” ― Susan C. Young

1970s-fridgeA few years back, we had an older fridge that came with a house we bought, and it was at least 20 years old, likely more. It was a good fridge, always the right temperature, the crispers and freezer worked perfectly. It wasn’t a modern and sleek appliance. It was old looking and reminded me of a fridge we had when I was a kid. But it was a good fridge. Until one morning, shortly after our first daughter was born, when my husband went to take his lunch out of the fridge to go to work, and the door wouldn’t open. My husband had to pull on the door, leaning back with all his weight, and when he was finally able to get it opened, it was apparent something had gone very, very wrong. There had been a fire inside the fridge. The temperature controller and light unit had fried, and was melted and charred, and there where flecks of black burned ashes or carbon all over the items in the fridge, and it was warm. Warmer than room temperature. We figured a little fire had used up all the oxygen and snuffed itself out, and in the process created a vacuum that sucked the door shut, and that was why it wouldn’t open. Thank god, as that meant it had had a good seal and prevented more oxygen from getting in and feeding the fire, and that saved us from an incredibly devastating possibility. We had a new fridge delivered within hours, and the old one taken away. We lost all of our food in the fridge and the new fridge was an unexpected cost, but the price for all of that was irrelevant considering what could have happened.

So… I’m no refrigerator repair person, but I do own one and we use it all the time, and we know a couple of things about it. Many of the problems we have with fridges are easily assessed and corrected. Not all of them. And most times, as with my story above, these issues are not anticipated. The problems can sometimes be very difficult ones, but normally they can be fixed. The same is true in our province. Those of us who live here are able to work out, using common sense and life long observations, what the issues are, what causes them, and what could be done to correct them.Maytag_Man_Hat_NS

There are solutions to every problem, always. But you cannot fix anything if you don’t have the right intentions to start with. First, you have to want to fix it. Really fix it. It is easy to walk away from hard issues, and if you don’t really and truly want to repair them, then nothing you do is going to make them work. You cannot ignore a problem and think it will just go away. You cannot fix something else instead and expect that to help. Fixing something else, or applying the wrong fix can create major malfunctions impacting other parts and areas not already involved. You can’t fix something properly without investing enough in the right parts. The province of Nova Scotia could easily be a fridge. Each part has it’s own characteristics and needs to be working a certain way to perform its respective duties.

The biggest problem with fridges is when they don’t function at all. No chill. No lights. We’re not there yet in the province, so I won’t try to go in too deep on this, but the first solution is to check the power supply. We do have a power problem in NS, literally and figuratively, and I would recommend we inspect our power supply carefully. Who is in charge? At some level it appears the bureaucrats. On other angles, maybe the wealthy elite and corporate CEOs. To some degree, there is quite simply weak power available for some reason. It is up to us to demand better quality power, but never allow ourselves to be overcharged for it. If we look at the quality for dollar situation we are in right now, we are not getting what our dollars would have brought us a generation ago. We are spending much more, for much less. And people appear to be getting into the political game for the money. It isn’t always the case, obviously, but silence, lack of action and poor behaviour seem to be overtaking working for the greater good.

As a repairman, you would recognize quickly that a fridge requires a direct power source, and and you would check the source to ensure it is functioning as it should. If the power source is inappropriate or inconsistent, we wear out and wear down the components and eventually, fixing them becomes a hunt and peck situation, seeking out the bad elements one by one and trying to fix them each before harming other elements and it can get so out of hand, we can’t keep up.  We are in that phase in this province now. Hunting and pecking at one issue at a time, too little and not really providing solutions, thereby, in some sense more and more, too late.

fe9a7876-aee1-4ecb-865f-03fa3233f06eWe would not use a stove to store juice, nor a dishwasher to keep our vegetables fresh. We use a fridge for the purpose it was invented. We would not hire a mechanic to repair our fridge. And we would not hire a plumber to install the electrical panel that provides our power.  But the government, elected to run the province, has given over control in this province to industry and business people. We lack protections in our agreements and regulations to place the onus on appropriate parties to resolve their mistakes or to prevent a path of destruction. Offshore petroleum critics can align with this just as easily as those watching our forests. Industry lobbyists and managers are now managing these sectors of the government departments that are meant to regulate them. Our health care system is run by lawyers and accountants. Not healthcare professionals. You cannot do the best in governing, enforcing or controlling services if your objectives are not those mandated by the acts that guide your purpose. Accountants and lawyers do not learn the role of serving and saving all human life. They are looking to save money. Petroleum and forestry veterans are not looking to save the planet. All of these professionals are looking to make money. But the money doesn’t seem to flow through to the people of the province, through better services, better roads or better tax rates. 1a89f654321bc3e0f187a6c52807010eThere is a sort of brand bias, much like appliance brands, when it comes to how our government staff deals with industries. A Samsung licensed dealer, will promote Samsung refrigerators. Well, oil and gas people promote oil and gas objectives. Forestry people promote forestry objectives. Accountants promote accounting objectives. Where are the scientists, doctors and conservationists in these government roles?

A disturbing practice in government lately has been to ignore or demean the front-line workers and users of the services government provides. I am not talking about the industry people, but rather the members of the public, or the teachers and nurses and doctors who use and work in our schools, emergency rooms, etc. As a repairman, when you go into a home to look at a broken fridge, you need details about the issue from the fridge owner. Can you imagine going to to Helga’s house and ignoring her description of all her frozen goods being spoiled by a lack of cold temperature, and trying to assess the issue without knowing the freezer was not working? If she told you she heard the compressor was running non-stop, would you ignore her and immediately turn down the temperature, then just tell her she had the fridge set incorrectly? Would you dare to tell her the fridge is too complicated for her to understand, while she had been the owner and user of that fridge for 10 years? If her fridge had remanants of a fire inside, would you tell her a fire is not possible?

messy-fridgeNot all problems with fridges are mechanical. An over crowded fridge can lead to other concerns.  This does not require a repair person so much as general cleaning and maintenance. If not tended to, a lack of maintenance can in fact lead to much more serious and quickly untenable conditions. Mold, rotten food, bad smells, seeping and mushy messes. When you can’t see the back of the fridge for the piles of goods in the front, it is easy to forget those that have been waiting to be consumed the longest, until they have reached and passed their expiry date. If you select the easier to prepare goods, rather than use up the items that will soon become spoiled, we waste those goods. In this province, looking past the harder to resolve issues, in favour of shiny and bright and easy alternatives, leaves the difficult issues to fester further and deeper. In this province, ignoring those who you think are not sick enough yet, while tending to those you think are easiest to treat, leaves a large gaping wound in a society not being treated to ensure a good quality of life. Looking after the kids who need the most help, or have the most promise, while ignoring those who need little, creates a crater (often referred to as a crack) for kids with a lot of potential to slip into.

Each fridge on the market offers different components, from door racks, to egg trays to deeper and larger freezers.  But when you buy a fridge, you need to choose one that makes sense for your purposes. What do you need? You should not choose a larger freezer, if you have over crowded crispers or if you have a freezer chest already. You shouldn’t use the components incorrectly. Over filling an egg tray, will lead to broken eggs. Overcrowding the meat and cheese tray will lead to misshapen, torn and broken food stuff from jamming and cramming to get the drawer to close. Or, if the drawer does not close, neither will the fridge door. Shutting off the freezer chest, to save money and cramming everything into the fridge freezer past its capacity, causes the freezer to not function as it should. Closing emergency rooms in 4 hospitals for days on end, causes overcrowding in the fifth hospital, which leads to people not being treated in a timely manner, and ofttimes exacerbating a health condition to something much more serious.

We also must ensure we are working with the right information when maintaining and repairing fridges. Using a manual for other brands and models is not appropriate. Using a manual from 1970 for a 2018 fridge concern is non-sensical. Trying to make Nova Scotia work, based on policy in Ontario, is like looking at a General Electric upright freezer and fixing what you think will make it work like a Frigidaire wine fridge.

organized-refrigerator1Denying there is an issue is not going to help fix the issue, and in most cases the issues are not going to go away on their own. Things like the fridge or freezer not working, just like many things in this province, need the right kind of repairman to lead the way in figuring out what is wrong, finding the best way to fix them, and implementing the solutions in a way that works effectively without adding more problems. From what I can see, our current repairman, is reading from an outdated manual, and is ignoring or avoiding the real problem and is trying to fix things that weren’t broken in the first place.

While our fridge never gave us reason to call a repairman before the fire, I can say with certainty, if a repairman left our fridge consistently not working, and offering no solutions, we would be looking for a new repairman. We would be looking for someone prepared to locate the real problem, listen to us explain our experience and the issues, collaborate with other experts for a proper repair if he isn’t trained on our brand and study the current data on the appliance, all to ensure that when he leaves, we are not finding ourselves left to burn in a vacuum.

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