Free Fridge

A second piece of good luck came my way. The first was a free iPad back in July. The second was a free fridge last week. Tangible good luck. I needed that. In the last couple of years there have been very few offers that sounded too good to be true. There have been too many events that turned out to be too bad to be true, yet they were. Ah, but good news begins to filter through. It is hard to believe, but believe I will, that good times will return. I have a big, white, daily reminder sitting in my kitchen.

This small house is the best home I’ve known. A couple of years ago it looked like I’d soon be able to give it the treatment its 45 year old self deserved. DNDN was bouncing along at $40 as if it wanted to pop another $20, as soon as earnings were announced. AMSC was massively successful in China because of the wind power industry, and AMSC’s main division was about to enter the marketplace. MicroVision finally launched a product and the updated and profitable version was due out within months. If all of those succeeded I could hire prime architects and customize this home to me. If two of them succeeded I could afford major upgrades with a wonderful level of comfort. If one of them succeeded, or if any of my other stocks succeeded I’d be able to pay the bills and launch into a series of DIY projects. The roof and updating the fireplace would have to wait. Regular readers know that none of them succeeded. What were the odds of that? What were the odds that they would all succeed? I hadn’t expected that either. But I had dreamed, visualized, imagined that possible future.

My home is for sale because the financial litany continues outside my portfolio. I’d like to fix up the house to make it easier to sell, and as a courtesy to the next owners. I’ll do some painting. Sorry folks, but that’s what I’ve got. And then I got a facebook message from a friend. She’d just received a free fridge. The topic sounded like something that should have been caught by the spam filter, but it was legit. I did nothing. Then she posted her story on her facebook wall. I did nothing. My kitchen is so old that it is so small that I can’t find appliances to fit. That’s why the renovation would be so expensive. Walls would have to be moved. Surely they couldn’t find a replacement for my fridge. Then I won an iPad and thought maybe good things can happen again. I called. (Appliance Recycling Center of America 1-877-341-2314, which seems to be operating the program for Puget Sound Energy)

It is an interesting program. Old refrigerators are inefficient. That’s no surprise. The power drain on one household may not be much, but there are so many in the area that the local power company realized the old fridges required their own power plant. Replacing every old (more than 20 years old) fridge for free was cheaper than building a new power plant, and was a lot simpler too. Site selection, environmental impacts, community engagement, and the risks inherent in construction were much more complicated than giving things away for free. Okay. Sign me up. The light switch was broken years ago. (I strung LEDs on the inside with a battery pack on the outside.) And it’s been making weird noises for a while.

They sent out an inspector. That makes sense. He had a two hour drive, got stuck in the ferry line for over an hour, was led astray by his electronic navigator (that didn’t know the bridge was out) to finally find my address. He walked in, said hello, opened the refrigerator door, said “Yep, its old enough.”, handed me a piece of paper, pleasantly said good bye, and left for his two hour drive home. His time and gas alone probably added up to a few hundred dollars.

A few weeks and a few missed phone calls later, two delivery guys arrive on time, measured a few things, took out the old fridge (bye!), rolled the new one into place, and happily headed home for what I guessed was more like a three hour drive through Seattle’s rush hour. How much more did that cost? The business side of me continued to calculate and ponder.

Before they left we learned one thing. The fridge fit in so many ways, except for opening the door. The aisle is too small. But, hey, that’s a small price to pay for free. Imperfection gladly accepted.

As I dutifully filed away the warranty and paperwork I came across the price tag. They’d given me a $720 fridge. That about two years of electric bills. I guess years of payments had merely been an appliance replacement savings plan. (I wonder what else I’ve been paying into all these decades.)

Situations like that are fodder for pundits. It would be easy to highlight the imperfections and argue that the program doesn’t make sense, but it does.

There are so many people and houses that any program has to choose between occasional inefficiencies or pervasive micro-management. Accepting imperfections can be far cheaper than guaranteeing that every action is financially reasonable. The bureaucracies that we complain about exist because someone complained about imperfections. We attempt to impose perfect order on an imperfect world. Perfect public systems sound like good ideas until we’re sent back to the beginning of the line, or back to menu #1, or put on interminable hold because we didn’t fill out every box exactly correct.

I’m glad and surprised to see such wisdom come out of the local utility. Thank you Puget Sound Energy.

What are the odds that such a program would exist? What are the odds that my string of bad luck has finally turned? I don’t know, but I do know that on certain days, like last week when GERN went down 50%, or when I heard that I didn’t get the nice job in downtown Langley, it is nice to have a tangible piece or two of good luck. The tangible good luck reminds me of the intangible good luck that pervades the rest of my life: community, health, friends, family, and experience.

So, I asked the universe and powers that be for something tangible, and it was delivered. I was thinking in terms of cash, you know, so I could pay all of my bills. After the fridge was delivered I realized that almost all money now is electronic. Does that mean that money isn’t tangible, and that wealth isn’t tangible? Okay universe, either in cash or in the appropriate intangible, I need enough to maintain, sustain, and eventually thrive in my life. That’s called living.

Life continues to surprise. As the delivery guys moved out the old fridge, a piece of art was found. Now, I am curious. Who was Kelly O’Shea and does she want her art back? Help find Kelly O’Shea. Maybe she needs a tangible bit of good news. (#findkellyoshea)

About Tom Trimbath

real estate broker / consultant / entrepreneur / writer / photographer / speaker / aerospace engineer / semi-semi-retired More info at: and at my amazon author page:
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Free Fridge

  1. Nice piece of refrigerator art! Congrats on the new fridge…and the good luck. The rest will come.

  2. Sorry about the job. Thought you were the prime candidate. Probably due to them seeing you getting a nice new refrigerator and figuring you didn’t need a job.

    I like your economic analysis of free refrigerators. Perhaps you can suggest they hire you as refrigerator inspector for Whidbey Island and save the utility all that travel time. Of course, they’d probably assign you to Seattle and keep sending someone from there to Whidbey.

  3. My sources tell me there are still some left!

    Qualified applicants should call 877-341-2314.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s