The Foul Fridge


This is one possible solution. Dot has some better ideas.

Last week we introduced our new advice column, Dear Dot. And you responded with some great questions. Here’s our first round of life-changing advice:

Dear Dot,
I live in Brooklyn, renting an apartment from a tyrannical landlord who I am afraid of.  He is big and scary and doesn’t speak, only yells.  After a few slow months, I found myself unable to pay my electric bill.  Also around this time, I spent a two week dog sitting stint out of my apartment and my during that time my electricity and refrigerator was shut off, full of food.  It had already been off for about two weeks when I returned.

Stressed, I grew afraid of dealing with the problem.  Now it’s been many months I’ve spent sans fridge, afraid and unwilling to open the door unsure what I’ll find.  Ideally I’d like to just replace it but I’m not sure how to get the one that’s there out of my apartment in a way where the door won’t open and who I could possibly hire for such a thing and finally how to do it without my landlord noticing.  What do I do?  Help!


Dear De-fridgerated,

Let’s take a step back for a minute. You had the understandably stressful experience of being unable to pay your bills (no fun, for sure, but also not uncommon in this economy). As a result, you lost power and a fridge full of perishables languished for a few weeks (again, not exactly a cardinal sin). Instead of cutting yourself some slack and grabbing a trash bag and some rubber gloves, you slipped into an avoidance spiral, compounding your stress and turning a relatively minor affair into a source of fear and shame that is now compromising your ability to make healthy decisions for yourself.

Are you really considering laying out the scratch for a new fridge in a rental unit owned by a landlord you hate? What have you been eating all this time? I promise you that whatever is behind that door is not terrifying enough to justify pouring any more of your money into needless appliances and takeout, and if you do that you will just be ratcheting up the avoidance that got you here in the first place.

If you really can’t bring yourself to tackle the monster alone, consider spilling the beans to a trusted friend and asking them to help. It could be interesting! My college roommate and I still wonder about the cup we found on move-out day freshman year that was full of something that looked like the lunar surface. If all else fails, hire a pro who has experience with extreme cleanup situations. A quick Google search for “Brooklyn heavy duty cleaning” turned up several local services that can take care of your problem in no time, and for much less than you were prepared to fork over for a new fridge. Take some of the cash you save and treat yourself to a trip to the farmer’s market and a healthy, home-cooked meal in your newly-spotless digs. You must be dying for one!

Finally, you should think about exploring the reasons that you feel so powerless when confronted with stressful situations. Perhaps some short-term therapy might give you a new perspective on how to cope with life’s unpleasantries–whether they be nightmare landlords, financial hiccups, or gnarly science experiments lurking in your refrigerator–in a more confident, less emotionally taxing way. All of us are tempted to ignore things that make us uncomfortable and hope that they go away, but that approach is rarely effective, as you learned, and it always comes at a cost.

Best of luck,


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5 Responses

  1. Blackops -

    ha! I moved into a friend’s apartment 15 years ago in the LES. His fridge had died about a year or so before… only he just unplugged it and left it. He gave me only one warning to not open it. Then, we had visitors stay for a few nights and unsuspectingly someone opened it. My friend flew across the room, as if saving a child from an oncoming car, and slammed the door shut yelling warnings to all. At that point, he duct taped the thing shut.
    Cut to six months later, where he moves out, I take over the lease, my s/o moves in. We contact the landlord to get a new fridge; the deal is that we clean out the old one so it can be hauled away.
    Knowing this would stink, we ran to the local hardware store and bought facemasks, rubber gloves, bleach, and garbage bags. But we weren’t truly prepared for what was inside!
    Luckily, the fridge was next to a window, so we opened that, prepped the garbage bags so they would be wide open and available to easily toss crap into them. We were ready… so… we quickly opened it and found boxes of food, things wrapped in saran wrap, metal cannisters of 16mm film, a couple cartons of milk, and other odd smaller things. But the weirdness was that it was all equally colorless and gray. There was black mold creeping up the sides and strange stalactites hanging from the ceiling of the fridge, and -worse- cocoon-like things hanging on the walls as well. Yes, small things (bugs we never caught or identified) flew out. And maybe the weirdest part was touching the gray boxes and cartons… while they maintained their exact shape and faded imagery, they would turn literally to dust and crumble before our eyes.
    We quickly scooped everything out and into garbage bags, resealed the fridge and called the landlord with news of our feat; a new fridge was delivered a few days later!

    • Dot -

      See? Call me crazy, but that sounds kind of fascinating. Millions of people tune in to watch stuff like this on Hoarders every week for pure entertainment. At any rate, you lived to tell the tale (and I bet it’s one you’ve told a lot over the years). Thanks for sharing it here. 

    • Anonymous -

      I think I’ve just been slightly traumatised by your tale!

      I had an incident several years back, where I was away, and my electricity was shut off for a few days, if I recall correctly (it’s a bit fuzzy). I don’t recall being afraid to open the fridge and clean it out, but I recall some crazy fear of the freezer. I’d had meat in there, and I imagined all sorts of terrible things, MAGGOTS being the major fear. I had to enlist the help of my Dad, I think …
      What I truly recall is just crap that needed to be tossed, and a freezer that had to be thoroughly cleaned — but nothing weird, disgusting, or scary (and I am majorly afraid of mild and bugs, LOL).

  2. Anonymous -

    That last sentence should read ‘MOLD’, not ‘mild’ — couldn’t effectively edit from this iPhone, dammit.


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