June 12, 2000

Behind the doors of the human fridge

Josh Renaud

There was one thing I especially loved about going to Sunday school at church when I was a kid: object lessons. It seemed I had several Sunday school teachers who were really good with taking real-life events and finding a practical, personal application.

After a recent incident, I thought I, too, might try my hand at a little object lesson.

Here at the newspaper we have our own refrigerator. Refrigerators remind me a lot of people. They're made with a purpose, a job, if you will. And, much like people, what's inside is far more important than what's outside, yet we tend to keep the outside cleaner than the inside, since that's what other people see.

Our refrigerator is no exception. Though you couldn't tell by looking from the outside, the inside of our refrigerator was an almost-literal hell frozen over. Each shelf was coated with some sort of sticky substance, from months-old soda to melted and re-frozen chocolate and to hardened italian salad dressing. Sitting on some shelves were packets of salt, pepper, sugar, parmesan cheese, and pizza peppers; all turned to gooey mush by the aforementioned spillage.

The worst of it, though, had to be the liquefied food. Yes, folks, it would seem that even the crispiest of foods -- say, for instance, carrots -- will be converted to a hideous black poison, if given the chance.

All of this nastiness combined together to produce a foul mutant odor. This odor had the ability to permeate our office five seconds after the refrigerator door was opened.

After just a few weeks into the summer, I couldn't take it anymore. Something had to be done.

I declared war and began waging it. The easiest part was throwing away everything in the fridge that wasn't unopened. After that, though, came the hard part: taking the refrigerator apart, shelf by shelf and then scrubbing, cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitizing each one. After the individual pieces were finished, I had to hit the inside of the fridge itself.

It was a long battle, and I have the scars to prove it, but when all was said and done, the refrigerator was beautiful on the inside again and it didn't smell as much.

So what's the application here? Well, maybe you're like my dad and you've figured out the conclusion ahead of time, but let me tell you anyway. I think everybody is a refrigerator in need of cleaning, from time to time; some of us maybe more so than others. It certainly wouldn't hurt to take a look inside and see what little things might be going bad. Throw them out, use a little sanitizer, and then fill yourself up with good, new stuff.

After all, you can only hide the smell for so long.

This article was reprinted with permission from The Current.

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