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Friday, October 30, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Mama Bear Moxie: You can’t buy quality anymore

By Kristina Phelan For The Spokesman-Review

I am tired of it.

I am tired of buying new technology that doesn’t stand up to life. I am tired of forking over hundreds of dollars for plastic pieces that fail because companies are trying to raise their bottom line. Why can’t I buy an appliance that will last? Do I even have the option to purchase “old school” items anymore?

My husband and I have been talking about getting another refrigerator for a few years now. We raise chickens, which can mean a lot of eggs taking up fridge space. We want to get a garage fridge that could not only hold an influx of eggs but also watermelons, drinks and possibly the elusive “adult beverages.”

We bought our fridge brand new from a store five years ago when we moved into our house. And it wasn’t a cheap one either. It was a side by side fridge with a stainless-steel exterior and an electronic water dispenser that will automatically fill the cup. (It’s ridiculous and lazy if you ask me, but whatever.) We even upgraded to the counter depth fridge since our fridge is in the main part of the house.

The fridge has been a point of disdain for my husband since we brought it home.

Every fridge on the market now has plastic shelves that you can move around. These shelves are solid white plastic in the back and usually clear plastic in the front because apparently you have to see the gallon of milk through the clear plastic to know that the gallon is sitting 6 inches above the shelf.

Mix these cheap plastic shelves with kids and you end up getting cracked shelves. Either the kids pull on them or items are drug up and over the shelf, making it crack. We have had to replace the shelves twice. We also have had to take out the cooling vegetable drawers for the same reason.

Remember back in the ’80s and ’90s when the fridges had shelves that were solid as a rock? Or better yet, remember older fridges from the ’60s and ’70s that feature metal shelves? Oh, the good old days.

This year, our fridge decided that Illinois winters are not harsh enough and that our food needed to be colder than freezing as well. It started slowly with the sour cream. Let me tell you, frozen sour cream will not return to its original state. I thought I could handle a frozen sour cream container here and there. I moved it to special location in the fridge and made sure to not block the airway that my husband was sure was the culprit to the problem.

Then other things started to freeze. A beautiful carton of strawberries. Forgotten leftovers in the back of the fridge. Even our beloved eggs.

A few weeks ago, our fridge debacle reached a breaking point. No matter how high of a temperature we set the fridge to, we would open the door to frozen everything. The lunchmeat was solid, the orange juice was chunky and the fresh vegetables were rock solid.

I started researching new fridges, and the sticker shock gave us the gumption to try a few more things just in case.

My husband pulled out the fridge to vacuum the coil, which honestly needed to be done regardless, but it didn’t help. We replaced a sensor that supposedly manages the temperature to no avail. It got to the point where I was only purchasing milk and things that I could store in the door of the fridge since it was the only spot that wouldn’t freeze solid.

I contemplated calling a repairman to take a look but decided that I better not suggest that to my mechanical engineer husband. There is a line with these guys that you just don’t dare cross.

We were in a bit of a time crunch. It’s hard to feed a family of five when the fridge doesn’t work. My husband stayed up late while I went to bed thinking of how many columns I would need to write to pay for it.

The next morning, I came downstairs and noticed that the fridge temperature was perfect. My husband rushed downstairs and immediately flung open the fridge to check it. Oh, the joy!

Apparently while sticking his head in the fridge the night before, he heard an odd sound. He ended up taking part of the fridge apart and saw that the damper that blows air into the fridge was stuck open thanks to a plastic piece that broke off. Our fridge was getting freezing temps because the damper couldn’t close. He ended up fixing the damper with a bobby pin, toothpick and hot glue.

I am thankful that our fridge is fixed. However, this experience has us wondering why our 5-year-old fridge is struggling when the metal fridge in my grandparent’s basement has been running strong for decades?

We have become a culture that depends on plastic to do the same job that metal has done in the past. New appliances may be more energy efficient, but that doesn’t really matter if I might have to replace my fridge every five years. Our culture values profits over quality. The cheaper, the better.

Kristina Phelan is a former Spokane-area resident now living in Illinois. Visit her website at

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