Refrigerator Angel

“Outside the open window, the morning air is all awash with angels.”
Richard Wilbur, from Love Calls Us to the Things of This World

“Millions of spiritual creatures walk the earth…
both when we wake and when we sleep.”
John Milton, Paradise Lost, IV

One day a few years ago, my oversized and ancient refrigerator, inherited when I moved into a thirty-year old condo, exhaled one last cold breath and died. I read on Google that this type of machine, with its motor balanced on top, required special handling. I quizzed the movers that I interviewed as to whether they knew how to transport this brand. A father and son responded with assurance that they knew this type of refrigerator well.

However, when they arrived, the pair, one short and one medium-sized man, struggled with the behemoth. Google suggested that they remove the top-heavy motor first, to facilitate the move. Even though we’d discussed this on the phone, the men had no idea how to do it and hadn’t brought the correct tools. After they slowly, and with loud grunts, maneuvered the metal giant into my living room, they decided they had to remove the top in order to get it out my front door. After a considerable tussle, the engine stubbornly remained atop the fridge with only black smears of soot on my beige carpet to indicate the useless efforts they’d made.

As they tried to manipulate through the narrow hallway and the front door, they tilted the top-heavy bulk this way and that. I feared the movers might injure themselves. At last, the tottering hulk sat in front of the elevator, the two men sweating, but luckily intact. I could see the fridge was taller than the elevator door and would require more scary tilting. The inept father and son looked doubtful about our chances of getting the fridge into the elevator. Our ordeal wasn’t over. Mentally, I sighed a desperate, not at all religious, lord, help us.

When the elevator door slid open, the largest man I’d ever seen, at least six and one-half feet tall with bulging muscles, stood in front of me. Neatly dressed in slacks and a conservative aloha shirt, he seemed to be a mixture of every race in Hawaii, with none dominant. “Oh,” I said, not registering the large smile on his face, “Sorry to bother you. We’ll catch the next elevator.”

I felt surprise when I noticed he’d pushed the “Hold Door Open” button. “You need help,” he declared with a grin, “and I’m just the one for you. I love moving. All my friends call me when they have big stuff to haul. It’s what I do.” His sincere enthusiasm stunned me because, for hours, I’d felt nothing but weariness and dread.

Before I could say a word, he launched himself out of the elevator, took control and single-handedly torqued the fridge neatly into the small elevator space.

As we rode down, I profusely thanked him. He told me he lived in the building, but I’d never seen him. This was odd. Full-time residents, such as myself, comprised only about ten percent of the condos. Corporations owned the rest and allowed their employees to vacation there. I knew all the full-timers.

He was a stranger, but for the next year, I looked for him around the building. I never saw him again. His arrival in the elevator at that anxious moment was an astounding coincidence. He probably saved the two other movers from injuring themselves. 

I now think of him as my Refrigerator Angel. I always smile when I remember his outpouring of infectious happy spirits. I’m still astounded that my desperate call for help could be so perfectly answered.

Cate Burns is the author of Libido Tsunami: Awash with the Droll in Life, in which she unearths the ludicrous in the emotional live traps surrounding us — in families, friends and disastrous romances. Get it on Amazon today.