Refrigerator Love Story

I’m not a material girl.  I live frugally.  Most of the time, I prefer to make do or do without.  But every now and then, there is a very unfrugal material good that gains my obsession.  This is the story of one such love.

We moved into our house two years ago.  The refrigerator was over ten years old then, and it hasn’t gotten any fresher. It cools things and it freezes thing, and that’s about all I can say for it.  Oh, and that the light works.  But it’s too small, it freezes the lettuce and other delicate items if it’s set cold enough for the milk to not sour quickly, it’s hard to find anything in it, and the gaskets don’t seal well (and thus cultivate a ring of mold where moisture condenses around the door).

We’ve bandied about the idea of getting a new refrigerator ever since we moved in, but since it works (more or less), it just hasn’t been a high priority.  There are a lot of things we’d like to get or replace (bed, AC, window treatments, furnace, garden shed, kitchen counters, and my pet project—skylights).  Some of the things on our wish list will have to be purchased eventually; others may never become a reality.  A new fridge would almost certainly be required someday, but I was okay with the status quo.

I think it’s a little higher priority for my husband. He gets frustrated when he tries to find something.  He complains that I pile everything at the front, so it’s impossible to see or access stuff at the back.  What can I say?  I like to keep stuff I use often where I can see it.  My husband, on the other hand, doesn’t access the refrigerator nearly as often, but when he does, it’s usually to access stuff that tends to migrate to the back; the jar of jalapenos, for example.  And I get frustrated when he moves stuff around, because when he gets in the fridge, he’s just grazing.  When I get in the fridge, I’m working.

Nevertheless, my husband might have been content to put up with the chaotic refrigerator if it hadn’t been for the frozen lettuce and how the poorly situated temperature control frequently gets jostled and inadvertently (and unnoticedly) set colder or warmer.  When we had Mexican food recently and discovered that the sour cream was frozen, I think something in my husband snapped.

On a recent trip to Sears (I hadn’t been in a Sears in ages . . . it’s a shame that they are predicted to go out of business soon; they really are a pleasant store to browse in), my husband tried to seduce me by taking me to see their refrigerators.  I’ll admit that his plan had some effect on me; the shiny, roomy, clean refrigerators looked way nicer than what we have.  But I was really disappointed when I realized that the ones I found most seductive were way more expensive than my husband’s proposed budget.  I figured I could scooch him up a bit, but the nicer refrigerators with all the oo-ah features were not only much more expensive, they were bigger, and we have a pretty small fridge space.

Once I realized that the refrigerators I liked were too expensive and too big, I quickly lost interest.  But my husband didn’t give up.  Over the next few days, he took me to other stores to browse the merchandise.  I was faced with the same problems wherever we went.  But then I discovered the refrigerator, the Maytag MFX2571XE.  It was too big and way too expensive, of course.  But just as passionate, inconvenient love cannot be denied, vanquished, or forgotten, nor can passion for a major appliance.

My top requirement for a new fridge was a freezer on the bottom with a proper drawer and not wire baskets, because I just knew small things would fall out of that type and get jammed somewhere inaccessible or fall on the floor and get pushed under the fridge where they would go unnoticed until they smelled like something died under there.  Or things would poke through the baskets and require rearranging to shut the drawer at the very worst time.  Plus the wire baskets just seem to spill a lot more cold air than baskets that are more solid.

When I found the MFX2571XE, the first thing I noticed was that it had two drawers.  I assumed that they were both freezer drawers, but when I pulled out the top drawer, I squealed with delight when I discovered that it was a refrigerator drawer. It’s the only external refrigerator drawer I’ve ever seen. Words cannot express what a stroke of genius this is.  Since someone got the idea to put a block of ice in a cupboard to make an icebox, it’s the first major change in how the space is accessed.  A drawer. What an innovation!  And it’s a solid drawer, so nothing falls through, and the cold air doesn’t flow out (not even from the main fridge space, which is sealed off from the drawer).  To every parent who has ever had the frustrating experience of a teen who stands with the refrigerator door open as they leisurely memorize the contents, this is a forehead-slapping development that makes you say, “Why didn’t someone do this before???”

In awe, I slowly closed the smooth, silent drawer.  “Oh, this is good.  This is really good,” I said with a tremor in my voice.

My husband edged closer.  Could it be that he’d found the fridge to tempt me?  “You like that, don’t you?” he asked hopefully.

I opened the French doors.  The inside was brightly illuminated with cool LED lights.  I stared reverently.  I noticed that the floor of the refrigerator is clear glass that allows you to see into the big drawer.  Nice.

I pulled out the freezer drawer.  The baskets were not wire, and they were on two levels.  The top drawers rolled smoothly out of the way to access the larger bottom drawers, and closing the main drawer made them all quietly roll back in place.  I could see nothing to criticize.

I closed everything up and stood back to look at the price.  Yeouch!  Over $2,000—way above my husband’s suggested budget, even with scooching.  And the size . . . oy, the size!  It was three inches too big for our space.  My husband had suggested that we could remove a set of cabinets to get a bigger refrigerator, but I was loath to lose the storage space.  But still, at that moment, I knew that no other refrigerator would ever satisfy me.  It was THIS one or no other.

That was a couple of weeks ago.

Last week, the MFX2571XE went on sale.  It was still way too expensive, and it certainly hadn’t shrunk.  My husband called me from work, asking if I wanted to get it.  I told him I thought it was still too expensive, so we probably shouldn’t.  He asked, “Is there any other refrigerator you’ll be happy with?” I had to honestly admit that there was not.  “So we’ll get this one.”

I pointed out that we still had the space issue, but he promised to make it work.  My husband is very, very good on the promises he makes, so I trusted him.  He called me back a few minutes later.  “It’s a done deal.  I’ve ordered it.  It will be delivered the day after tomorrow.”

I was so excited!  To anyone who doesn’t understand this, all I have to say is, you don’t know the MFX2571XE.  To know him is to love him.

The morning of the delivery (which wouldn’t be until late afternoon), my husband began measuring things and plotting his strategy.  By the time I got out of bed, he had covered the kitchen carpeting with plastic to protect it because he knew that was a concern I had (yes, we have kitchen carpeting, which I had installed at the suggestion of my wonderful mother-in-law, and no, I don’t regret it; it’s another one of my favorite material things).  And somehow, despite being hobbled by a boot cast, my husband had run out to the store and bought a new kitchen base cabinet that was three inches narrower than the one we currently had.  He could reuse the old countertop by cutting it to fit.  Because the upper cabinet is attached and quite integral to all of the other cabinets in that section of the kitchen, we would keep it in place until we redo all of the cabinets (something he’s been itching to do for years).  This would mean that the new refrigerator would have to sit 12 inches out from the back wall for now, which sounds awkward, but since it’s in a corner, my husband felt it would look okay.  He would wall off the void in back of the refrigerator using pieces from the soon-to-be-removed cabinet.  “But if you don’t like this, I’ll do it however you want,” he professed.

My husband is very good at designing things, so I gave him the green light.  He removed the old cabinet and had the new one in place so quickly, it was as if the old cabinet had just shrunk.  He carefully measured the countertop and cut it into an L-shape to exactly accommodate the new refrigerator.  When he was all done, I was thoroughly impressed.  I consider such an accomplishment a conspicuous marker of manliness.

When the deliverymen came in to remove the old refrigerator, I was concerned about them tipping it up on an appliance dolly and spilling the drain pan on the carpet (one of the reasons I wanted plastic everywhere), but apparently refrigerators are no longer moved that way.  The two men donned massive harnesses that they slipped under the fridge, and they just picked it up and quickly walked out of the house (making it look surprisingly easy).  The new refrigerator came in the same way.  Quicker than I can bring in an armload of groceries, they had the new refrigerator in the kitchen. They quickly hooked up the water line of the fridge to the new line my husband had run from under the sink just that morning (is he handy, or what?), and pushed the fridge into place.  It fit perfectly.

And, oh, is it ever a thing of beauty.

I was afraid that once we got it, my love for the MFX2571XE would diminish—as tends to happen with things we covet—but it hasn’t.  That’s how you know it’s true love.

The stuffed-to-capacity contents of our old freezer fit neatly within the new freezer, leaving one drawer completely empty.  The chaotic contents of our old refrigerator were instantly easy to find.  Even with everything transferred, the new refrigerator looked almost empty. All of my piled-in-the-front items stashed with room to spare in my beloved drawer.  Now I can see my stuff and have it at my fingertips, and my husband can easily see and reach his stuff.

Old refrigerators are notorious power consumers, but true to my impression of this being an efficient fridge, the Energy Star rating has it ranked as among the very best; Maytag touts the MFX2571XE as using less electricity than a 60-watt light bulb.

I love my MFX2571XE, but I’m not blind to its faults.  Some of the door shelves are too shallow or too specifically shaped to be of much use. (A wine-bottle bin?  We don’t even drink!  I’ve awkwardly wedged a bottle of barbecue sauce in there for the time being.)  But this is okay because I have The Drawer.  The crushed ice feature doesn’t work very consistently (pieces range from shavings to whole cubes), but that’s okay because I don’t use ice very often.  The nutrition listings on the LCD screen contain very few items (and you can’t add more . . . such poor planning!), but I would rarely use that, anyway.  My biggest gripe is that the ultra-nifty LED lights are not replaceable, and Maytag does not give any idea of what sort of life expectancy they might have.  The little stage-like spotlights in the water/ice-dispenser can be turned on and left on, and I think they would make a fantastic nightlight if so used, but I plan to have this refrigerator for a long time, and I don’t want to burn out the lights.  Maytag should have made (at least) these replaceable, and instead of the rather useless nutrition listings, they should have made the lights programmable (so you could have them turn on and off at dusk and dawn).

I’m pretty sure that the MFX2571XE is a newer model of refrigerator, so, as I’ve told my husband, I’m okay with this being a “beta” model.  Maytag gave it a (mostly pointless) try by offering a multipurpose color touch screen.  I hope their next version will be a lot more useful.  Yes, add Wi-Fi, speakers, and a USB port! And don’t tell me that stuff will drive up the cost, when those things would add very little percentagewise to the manufacturing cost of a refrigerator with an MSRP of three grand.  If my modestly-priced cell phone can do everything but brush my teeth for me (and come to think of it, there’s probably an app for that), why can’t my refrigerator?

But despite my dreams for the future of refrigerators, I am so extremely happy and thrilled with my MFX2571XE.  A large part of that satisfaction comes from that wonderful, big drawer.  Kudos to the person at Maytag who came up with it, and a grateful nod to Maytag for implementing it. The bells and whistles of the MFX2571XE are nothing to write home about, but the drawer is worthy of sonnets.


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