Gay Yellen: Great Balls of… Ice?

Warning: the writer is grouchy today because the old refrigerator died.

Great Balls of Ice

It was a 1983-vintage custom-designed fridge that we inherited when we bought our home thirty years ago. It was sleek, streamlined and fit in seamlessly with the cabinetry. But it was too old to be repaired, so the search was on for a new one. My husband hoped it would make crushed ice.

The first model we chose had a delivery window of 4-6 weeks, minimum. No fridge for a month or more? Cancel that.

Moving down the row, we noticed a different brand’s floor model with a big SALE tag on it. It could be delivered immediately, and it made crushed ice. We grabbed it.

The dispenser options on the door display are Cubed/Water/Crushed. Hubby seems satisfied with the crushed. On the other hand, I have a problem with the so-called “cubed.”

Does this look like a cube to you? No. It’s a rectangular pyramid with a rounded-off top, kind of like a mini lump of half-spent charcoal. Those smart fridge engineers had to know it wasn’t a cube. Maybe “lump” was too down-scale a word for the marketing team. Sure, the pieces chill like a cube, but still… it rankled the editor in me.

For a visual reference, here’s a cabochon amethyst cut in a shape called “sugar loaf” that’s almost identical to our lumps. Obviously, gemologists are way more careful with their language.

Anyhoo, back to the new fridge, where we discovered that it also makes a third kind of ice, described in the 67-page owner’s manual as “Craft.” To our amazement, there’s a bonus shaping device that lurks inside the bowels of the freezer compartment that is more special and even craftier than your everyday two-way ice dispenser.

It makes balls of ice as big as billiard balls, and they are so extra super-duper that only three per day can be “crafted” to become the crystal wonders pictured in the photo at the top of this post. New ones announce themselves with a kerplunk, plunk, plunk that emanates from the deep.

Why are we engineering such useless gizmos for our over-pampered selves? Is there a big demand for a perfectly round chunk of ice so heavy it could tumble from your Scotch-on-the-rocks and knock out your front teeth?

This new whiz-bang appliance is too busy and bulky and bossy to love. You barely touch a door and it smugly announces that it’s keeping everything at a perfect temperature. Leave a door open longer than it “thinks” you should, and it sends out an annoying series of beeps. As if we didn’t already have more than enough things to beep at us. And did I mention that it looks like the backside of an elephant?

Truth is, I miss our old machine. I’m still trying to chill out about its replacement. Wish me luck.

Do you have an emotional relationship with an inanimate object? Love it, or hate it?

Gay Yellen is the award-winning author of the Samantha Newman Mystery Series, including The Body Business, The Body Next Door, and the upcoming Body in the News.

21 replies
  1. Donnell Ann Bell
    Donnell Ann Bell says:

    I am so tired of having to relearn something that some engineer overengineers and thinks is brilliant. And don’t get me started on planned obsolescence. I suggest a mouth guard, Gay. You may need it!!!

  2. T.K. Thorne
    T.K. Thorne says:

    You made my day with this hilarious post! Don’t get me wrong—I understand. I had a heating tray that lasted for 30+ years and I could (almost) actually prepare a meal with its help, but when it finally died, I could not find anything halfway satisfactory. (I did marry a chap who can cook, so there’s that….) I think they design stuff to die. But that is a side issue to your delightful, clever writing which made me laugh out loud and face the day with a human connection to our tech world.

  3. Lois Winston
    Lois Winston says:

    Gay, we had three appliances die and one on its very last legs during the height of the pandemic. The range died early enough that we were able to get a reasonably priced replacement. By the time the dishwasher went, all we could get was a high-end model from Europe that cost three times what a normal dishwasher costs. Then the dryer went, and we found a floor model with bells and whistles I didn’t want or need to replace it. But it turned out it wasn’t really a floor model; it was a return. The reason it was returned? The darn thing never shut off on its own! And through it all, the fridge, which I named Camille because it was taking an eternity to die, survived–barely. The replacement arrived after 9 months, but the warehouse refused shipment because it was damaged. So we went back on the wait list (It was the only make/model that would fit in the space.) We wound up selling our house and moving before the replacement arrived.

    • Gay Yellen
      Gay Yellen says:

      Selling the house seems like a drastic solution to the problem, Lois, but when I find myself hoping the new fridge (unlike Camille) dies a fast death, I perfectly understand. I love that you actually named the offender. I think I’ll call our new gizmo Dumbo.

  4. Kathryn Lane
    Kathryn Lane says:

    Gay, this blog is so funny! And yet we can all relate to your frustration.
    It’s the beeping that gets me on new appliances. When we downsized last year, I thought it’d be wonderful to have a new microwave whose winning point was that “there was no annoying beep”. Well, unless I’m standing next to the microwave, I cannot hear the quiet musical beep so I’m likely to forget I was heating water to make a cup of tea.
    If books can be “printed on demand” why can’t we have designer home appliances and pick the features we want after we’ve used them, listened to them, and re-designed them before we purchase them?

  5. Ken Oder
    Ken Oder says:

    Great post! Made me laugh out loud! And I can relate to it. All of our appliances and our car have a higher I.Q. than mine. They aggravate me while simultaneously destroying my ever-fragile self esteem!

    • Gay Yellen
      Gay Yellen says:

      Don’t get me started on new cars, Ken. I’ve never driven the one my husband bought in 2000. I’m not even sure I’d know how to turn it on. Thanks for laughing. Since we can’t stop the madness, might as well give up and giggle.

  6. Lynn McPherson
    Lynn McPherson says:

    I can relate! Everything in the house has a different command or beep or boop. Now I don’t even know how to turn on the tv without help from my kids—it’s all too confusing!

  7. Pamela Fagan Hutchins
    Pamela Fagan Hutchins says:

    OMG I feel ya. I have to keep buying the cheapest lowest frill vacuum in Walmart b/c the fancy new ones are too special for my multilevel carpet. But ALL the new ones are so cheap that I’m going through this exercise yearly. Meanwhile repeatedly replacing belts. This never used to happen. And I hate every new iPhone and laptop. I buy refurbs to get the old ones. And don’t get me started on TVs that do more than I need. Is it too much to ask that what I have already learned is enough, and that I be allowed to continue to survive with my self esteem intact? There comes a point where you’ve earned by survival/thriving the right to slow TFD. God help me, we’re about to get all new appliances for our rustic cabin in Maine… Enough, cruel world!!! Thanks for the laugh and the invitation 😉 to rant.

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