Shelf Life


We recently bought a new refrigerator. Our old one, which I can’t quit thinking of as new, was 15 years old, and could only freeze things to “slushie” level, so it was time. The new refrigerator looks like a space-refrigerator. It has blue mood lighting when you open the doors, and touch screen buttons to choose between “ice” “crushed ice” and “water”. Lots of things slide and adjust and pull out for your ever changing food storage needs.

But still, it is a refrigerator, and operates as refrigerators have since the invention of iceboxes – you open the door, you put the food in it, and then you close the door. When you want the food back, you open the door, take the food out, and then close the door.

This refrigerator, however, came with a 26 page manual. Twenty six pages (fifty two if you count the Spanish version also in the booklet.) Are there really twenty six pages of stuff to say about the operation of a refrigerator?

As a lawyer, who deals in stating the obvious in painful detail for a living because there is nothing people can’t screw up without explicit instruction, I understand that every direction in the manual beyond “Open door, place food inside, close door” comes because someone out there couldn’t figure it out or got hurt and threatened to sue. So now I know that if I want my electric refrigerator to be operational, I should plug it in. I should also not plug it in if my hands are wet, because that might result in a shock. I should take care not to store water in such a way that it might spill all over the electrical workings because that might result in a shock or a fire or perhaps an outbreak of the plague. If I want to turn the icemaker off, I should push the button labeled “Icemaker Off”, as it will result in the icemaker being turned off. Thanks for clearing that one up.

There is a two page guide on how long you can keep stuff in your refrigerator or freezer. Apparently this guide was written by the “Buy More Groceries More Often” lobbying group. According to this guide, I can only keep butter in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks. Citrus fruit can only be kept 1-2 weeks, and ground beef and chicken can only be kept for a day. A day? Are you kidding? That means if my family of carnivores wants to eat meat every day we have to go to the grocery store every day. Sausage, too, can only be kept for 1-2 days. Sausage? For realsies? That stuff is so well cured and salted that you could leave it in the SUN for 1-2 days and be fine with eating it. Seriously, y’all, there’s stuff in my fridge that pre-dates the birth of my children, and it hasn’t killed me yet. Next they are going to be telling me that I should throw out spices that are more than a decade old. Bwahahahahahha!

There were also some ‘helpful’ troubleshooting tips. For example, if there were an unpleasant smell in my refrigerator, I should look for food with strong odors, such as old fish. If the food in the refrigerator part starts to freeze, I should check that the temperature is set to above freezing. And, of course, if the whole thing quits working, I should check that it is plugged in.

They say information is power, and I guess that’s true, but ignorance is also bliss. I think I was happier eating food until it smelled or looked funny or until the expiration date was two days ago. I was happier thinking that the most complicated thing about my food storage device was figuring out how to shove everything in there without anything spilling or getting lost until it grew a fuzzy green coating.

Speaking of fuzzy green coatings, I sure hope that’s a kiwi in there. Whatever. I’m eating it anyway.

About Lori Duff 74 Articles
Lori is the author of the bestselling collection of humor essays, "Mismatched Shoes and Upside Down Pizza" currently available exclusively on Amazon. In order to finance her writing habit, she is a practicing lawyer with Jones & Duff, LLC. She is married to Mike Duff, who is a retired DeKalb County Public Safety Officer, and has two amazing children who make cameo embarrassing appearances in her blog posts and who attend Walton County Public Schools. Her legal column, "Legalese", is meant to de-mystify and humanize the Court system. When asked about her writing, Lori says, "Life is too short not to laugh at every available opportunity. My goal is to make myself laugh -- and hopefully you will laugh along with me."
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