It was the refrigerator that started it this time.
We bought a new refrigerator from Sears several weeks ago. We're pleased with it; it keeps our food at the correct temperature and it looks good, too.
The problem isn't the refrigerator; it's the warranty – or rather, the fact that we didn't purchase one.
We almost never pay for an extended warranty. Call us gamblers – we just don't buy them.
This must be hard for Sears to believe, because they keep on calling. The latest call came just this morning as I was elbow deep in a closet putting things away, when the phone rang.
“Hello, may I speak to John Shoo – Sur- Shur -”
“John isn't here. May I ask who is calling?” I said.
“Oh, hello. Is this Mrs. Shoo – Sur – Shur “
“This is Mrs. Schurter,” I said.
“Oh, hello, Mrs. Sur-ter,” he said in broken English. “I'm calling today to ask how you like that nice new refrigerator you recently purchased from Sears.”
“I like it very much,” I said, and sighed, knowing what was coming next.
Sure enough, the next thing my caller wanted to know was “Do you know you can still purchase an extended warranty?“
Before he could finish I said – as politely as I could - “Yes, I know about the extended warranty; I think you're the fifty-ninth person to call me to ask if I want one. We still haven't changed our minds about buying it, but thank you for the offer.”
(Fifty nine might have been a slight exaggeration, but not by much.)
“Oh, dear,” he said. “It is a wonderful deal. I'm sorry you don't wish to purchase it. I'll try to make sure no one else calls, though.”
“That would be great,” I said, thinking I might be willing to pay him if he could stop the warranty sales calls.
I wonder how much less our new refrigerator might have cost if Sears wasn't supporting such a large warranty sales staff . . .
Speaking of our new refrigerator, we've got all the magnets, cartoons, and advertising/special offer/pizza coupons attached to the front and sides, so now it looks like our own.
Why do we do that? Why can't we just leave the refrigerator – at least the outside of it – in pristine, unadorned condition?
Why do we feel the need to turn the refrigerator into a family billboard?
When I think of what I should take off, though, I'm stumped.
Certainly not the photographs of people I love – although I'm picky about which photographs I put on the refrigerator; they tend to fall off and tear or get dirty, so I don't put up too many photos.
Certainly not the magnets that remind me of vacations we've taken or that have some connection to people I love, or the cartoons that make me laugh inside every time I see them.
Certainly not the telephone numbers of local restaurants or pizza coupons – how would we eat?
And certainly not the cards that say things I want to remember, like “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”
Grandma Schurter didn't put too much on her refrigerator, at least not when they lived out on the farm. Her kitchen was long and narrow, with several big windows that let in a lot of light. The ceiling was high; the cabinets were tall, and everything was arranged efficiently. Grandma used colorful contact paper to protect the wall over the sink and stove, and to add a pretty touch to the work space where she regularly turned out pies, cinnamon rolls, and dinners.
What she did have was index cards with pithy sayings or Scripture verses she'd written out, taped to the space between the sink and the windows that looked out on the back yard and the fields beyond.
Your dad has often said that Grandma didn't have to say much; she just changed those index cards as needed. Whatever they said always seemed to speak to what was happening at the time.
Some of you have some of those cards; I think Amy has a framed set of them. I don't know if Grandma kept them and rotated them, or if she wrote them out as they came to mind. Someone found some of them, though, and thought they would be good to keep.
I'm glad Grandma found such a creative way to keep good words in front of her family, and that those good words did the work they were meant to do.
Maybe the refrigerator doesn't look so bad, after all.