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This is my first Memorial Box post, although I can think of several times in my life where God arranged specific circumstances in specific places for his glory. This particular instance happened on Dec. 17 or 18, 2011. We live in a good sized apartment with a full size refrigerator. We've lived here since Jan. 2009, and generally it's a pretty good place to live.
That Saturday and Sunday I was really busy doing "stuff." Mostly pre-Christmas stuff.. shopping, etc. For whatever reason I didn't cook on Saturday or Sunday. Sunday evening I thought about it but the thought of fixing a big meal wasn't very appealing since I was prepping for Christmas Eve & Day... which is usually just fine with my teenage boys. They are good scavengers and there was a lot of random food available.
Monday morning Mike opens the freezer for some sausage for breakfast and said "The freezer is broken. Everything is thawed." Ugh... not what you want to hear on a frantic Monday morning at 5:45am. We both realize that the fridge has been running nonstop for most of the weekend. There is still a bit of coolness in the freezer & fridge so not too worried.
He calls the landlord company after they open, and they send someone right over. The maintenance guy takes a 2 minute look at the back of the fridge and says, "Oh, it's just the thermostat pooped out. I can install another one in a jiffy." Which he does.. and tells Mike it will take several hours for everything to cool back down to normal temps.
Fast forward to Monday night... I get home from work and the fridge is still running. It seems marginally cool-ish, but in the interest of not losing all the food I have Mike pick up a cooler and some ice on his way home... just in case. I was also thinking this would lessen the burden on the poor old fridge.. so it could cool down quicker. I cooked a bunch of the meat and repackaged it with a slight change of plans. I should mention that both freezer and fridge were PACKED with food for the holidays & the boys time off school AND my parents had visited earlier in December and had brought Pacific halibut and cod that my dad caught... about 30 lbs. of fish. I thank God for the quick resolution to this whole giant problem. Whew! Drama and nightmare avoided!
Tuesday morning... cue the loud drum/horn music indicating doom and destruction. Nothing is cold and even the partially frozen stuff still in the freezer is completely thawed. Double Ugh... I call the landlord from work and leave a message. No call back. I call again around lunch time. The girl tells me "Oh, we thought that was a leftover message from yesterday about your refrigerator." I say no... its still a problem and now everything is warm and ruined. (Keep in mind this is Tuesday, Dec. 20... just a few days from Christmas... when my cooking and baking efforts start ramping up... and it is 2 more days until payday.)
She says they will try to have someone come that afternoon. I get home around 5:00 and still no one has been by to check in. I call the landlord's office again. "Oh my" she says, "I'm sure he will come first thing in the morning." The maintenance guy comes around 5:30 and declares that the fridge has died a slow death and we will have to get a replacement.... maybe on Wednesday.
I start bargaining with God... shouldn't we just go get one of our old refrigerators from the storage unit and plug it in? Isn't there a vacant apartment where we could store something? Couldn't a cold front blow in tonight and we could set things outside to keep cold? It is December in Illinois after all. Nope, nope and nope. Of course the whole idea of salvaging any of the food was ridiculous... grasping at straws I guess.
Wednesday afternoon at 3:00 they arrive with a new refrigerator. It's lovely, brand new from Sears. It's even a little larger than the old one. It even is noticably cold within a couple of hours! Awesome!! but we have nothing left to put in it and no money to go to the store with. Now... don't get me wrong... We had plenty of cereal, crackers, bread, tuna, etc. etc. that could have been made into a meal. My whiny heart just didn't want to deal with it.
I was chatting on Facebook with my brother, and then he quit responding. It was time for me to leave to pick up Mike from work so I signed off and gathered up my stuff and headed out the door. My phone rang and my brother's voice said, "Are you close to Hwy 150?" "Um.. yeah, why?" "Well how close?" "Pretty close.. Why?" "Ok, is that South Main Street?" "Yeah, I think so." "Ok sis, head that direction."
I follow my brother's directions and he says "Find the BP gas station." I say, "David, I don't need gas... just a listening ear while I vent all this frustration away." "No really, go the BP station on Main Street." (I know it well... it's just in front of our storage unit.) "Ok, does it have a Western Union sign?" "y.e.a.h.... ? " Ok, well there's a gift for you inside. Go out to dinner tonight, go to the movies, or even the grocery store if you want... just go spend it. Call me later when you get the money since I've never done this before and I'll tell you more of the story." Click.
Ok... I walk inside and go to the counter. I say to the man, I am supposed to receive Western Union money but I've never done this before. He just stared at me and said Come back tomorrow. I am new and don't know how to give the money. Hmmm ok God... what does THAT mean??
I walk back out to the car... Well I really should be getting over to pick up Mike from work... I'll figure it out as I go. I dial 411 and ask for another Western Union location, which connects me with their customer service info. I ask some questions and find out I can go to any of their locations. They give me a couple of addresses which are on the way. I stop at Kroger and go to their counter... but there is a sign saying they are on a 30 minute break.
Hmm next address is Kmart. Do I really want to go to Kmart two days before Christmas? I've got 20 minutes before Mike gets off work so I decide to see how long the line is. Wow.. only 1 person in line. I get to the counter and tell my tale. Ok, fill out this form... done... cash! The customer service man at Kmart was so pleasant, harried due to the season and yet wanted to make sure everything was done correctly and showing another co-worker how the process worked. Wow... talk about humbling. The amount was so generous. Walking back out to the car I felt like a troll and a frog... or a frog troll. I had been so focused on myself and my situation, negativity abounding.
I race to pick up Mike (late now) but can't wait to share the whole story! Yippee!! Ketchup, milk, eggs, cheese.
Fast forward to Tuesday, Dec. 27th. I had carefully shopped and saved all the receipts in hopes of getting some sort of reimbursement from our landlord company. $383 and change. Some of it wasn't replaceable, like the fish. It's out of season and like $26 per pound. I called and he offered half of the cost, applied to our January rent. That seemed reasonable-ish... but I now focused on things outside myself. I thanked him for the help and offered to fax the receipts for verification. (I still have them in my purse 6 weeks later!)
I have to say that I work for a large national insurance company, in their home office. And my cubicle is about 50 feet from the Claims dept. I know a few people over there because we share copiers and printers. I ran into Lori and normal chit-chat... how was your Christmas, etc. I mentioned the frantic last minute grocery shopping and the short version of the fridge death. She asked how the process of the claim was going.. assuming that I had done that. "Oh, we have renters insurance but our deductible is high on purpose.. too much hassle for $300." Her eyes just about popped out and she said, "You have to call that in right now! It's a non-chargable non-deductible claim." I explained that we had been partially reimbursed from the landlord anyway so wasn't going to take advantage. Oh no, she says... this is what your insurance is for. What??? I reluctantly call in the claim, and within 40 minutes I had a check in my hand. Oh my... God's provision is so abundant and overflowing. I still can't believe it happened... and it's only been 6 weeks! Wow...
The fridge works fabulously... shiny, clean, full of everything we like.
Oh.. and the story of how my brother's family was blessed to have more money than they expected is for another day.