The former home owners left us lots of little presents, but nothing tops the freezer. Apologies to those of you still trying to forget (you know we are), but here’s the deal –
No ordinary appliance, this giant metal horror film prop had sat, unplugged, for years before we bought the house. Besides being ugly and huge, it was full of meat that had been happily rotting away the whole time. In one ill-fated moment of curiosity, Josh had investigated and lifted the lid – and had all of his senses assaulted. He slammed it shut and fled the house, gagging. We turned it in early that night.
We tried (repeatedly) to plug it back into the wall and refreeze the unmentionable contents, but no amount of desperate attempts and feverish prayers would restore the freezer to working condition.
Originally, we couldn’t even get the freezer out of the house because the former owners, as far as we could tell, had installed it when the home had one set of basement stairs – and then replaced the stairs with a set that wasn’t wide enough to fit the freezer back up and out of the house. We fixed this problem by having a contractor haul out both old staircases and install a new one where it made sense – under the stairs between the first and second floors.
Now with a wider staircase, our problem was disposing of the freezer once we got it out. Landfills don’t like freezers – or rotting meat – and the companies that deal with awful cleanup jobs (like giant freezers and crime scenes) wouldn’t give us a quote because they deal almost entirely with insurance claims, where money doesn’t matter to the homeowner. The closest they could get to a price for us was somewhere between two hundred and two thousand dollars.
When you’re poor, even crime scene cleanup is DIY.
We put it off long enough, and now it was the last nasty thing standing between us and a clean house.
Josh decided to do it while I was still at work, which was a darn good thing, since I would have panicked and made all the helpers and their parents and partners and friends sign release forms and update their wills beforehand, and he did neither.
In the end, neither was necessary because everyone lived.
The five men lashed the freezer shut and hauled it up the shiny new basement stairs on a dolly, sloshing juices all the way. The original and less messy plan was to get underneath it and hoist it up the stairs, but it proved too heavy – but Josh estimates that it weighs 800 pounds, and in my brother’s words, “Victory doesn’t always smell like flowers.”
Instead they wheeled it up the stairs – two guys above and three below. Josh says that our sturdy new staircase was bowing under the combined weight of five people and a monster freezer — and that he warned the two guys beside him, beneath the freezer, to be ready at all times to leap out of the way in case the people at the top let go, lest they meet their end crushed by a freezer against a wall.
Ultimately, the only downsides to the whole experience were that (1) there were three-year-old meat juices all over my house and (2) the monster is still sitting in my driveway. I was convinced that it would call every scavenger in a ten mile radius to my yard, but so far, if there’s an aroma, it doesn’t seem to have attracted or repelled anyone. This is great, because we’d hate to get on the neighborhood’s bad side before we even live there, and no one wants to pull up to their mailbox to find that a flock of buzzards have moved in.
The plan now is to wait till the whole thing thoroughly freezes, then bag the contents and bleach the dickens out of the freezer until it’s recycle-ready.
Someone asked me tentatively, sincerely, a few days ago, “Now . . . why did you decide to buy this house?”
It’s true that we’ve paid dearly in evenings and weekends, bruises and pent-up frustration and the embarrassment of answering the question, “Why?” But what we’ve paid in pride we’ve saved in out-of-pocket costs.
Only poverty or insanity could motivate someone to do this – and we clearly are experiencing both.
I’m proud of what we’ve done. I take comfort, though, in knowing that there’s only one freezer.