Thank goodness they are only First World problems, OR That’s the way my cookie crumbles!

The last few weeks have been consumed with what my friend Judy refers to First World Problems.

First World Problems, according to the Urban Dictionary, are “problems from living in a wealthy, industrialized nation that third worlders would probably roll their eyes at.” So I give my readers my permission to roll their eyes at my recent series of First World woes.

In all honesty, I actually brought some of this on myself. Tired of the original orangey-brown pseudo-oak cabinets in our kitchen, I convinced my husband Larry that refacing the cabinets in white would be worth the time and money. When the company’s time frame to do the work coincided with my planned trip to Colorado, Larry graciously turned down my suggestions to delay the work until I returned. He would handle the last couple of days of installation and most of the clean-up on his own.

The weekend before my departure, Larry and I emptied out the entire contents of our cabinets into our living/dining room. When I attempted to run one last load of dishes before we had to close up the kitchen for the next few days, the door on the machine fell down with a thud, almost taking out my knee. The door springs had unsprung.

My washing machine must have decided it would have sympathy pains. Less than an hour later, I attempted to run a load of laundry. In the middle of the cycle, the machine stopped, and all sorts of lights began flashing. A Google search informed us that it was either a lid latch ($) or motherboard ($$$) malfunction. We threw the soaked clothes into our fairly new dryer [the old one had died in November]. First thing Monday morning, as the crew descended on our kitchen to begin work, I made a phone call to an appliance repair company to repair the dishwasher door and washing machine latch. 

Unfortunately, the appliance people couldn’t help me with my crown on my back molar, that had fallen off that morning while I was flossing my teeth. And the dentist would have to wait, as I didn’t have time to get to his office before my trip. I stuck it back on and hoped for the best.

After driving me to the airport Wednesday, Larry returned to a torn-up kitchen sealed off in plastic and a house filled with the overwhelming smell of paint. Meanwhile, my attempt at self-dentistry only lasted until I bit into an ice cream cone I had grabbed at the airport while waiting for the shuttle to take me to my daughter’s house. An emergency trip to Ten Mile High Dentistry was for naught. After a valiant, 45-minute attempt to glue the sucker back on, the dentist gave up and recommended I think about pulling the remains of the tooth out when I returned home. 

Meanwhile, back in Florida, the appliance repairman was one for two: the dishwasher was an easy fix, but the washing machine’s motherboard was gone. Larry and I spent an hour on the phone choosing a new machine from a local hardware store’s website. While I was hiking with my family on a beautiful Saturday in the Rockies, Larry was waiting for the new machine to arrive. No worries. He had plenty to do in the meantime as the kitchen work was completed. Larry put most of the kitchenware back into the new cabinets, leaving the spice drawers and some other cabinets for me to organize to my liking. (Yes, I married a gem!) 

I returned Tuesday night, and by Wednesday afternoon, the kitchen was completely back in business—or maybe not. Our nine-year-old refrigerator was not only freezing the ice cream but also the eggs, milk, lettuce and grapes. We made another call to the appliance man, who said that repairs could run up to $500. Maybe we should consider just biting the bullet and getting a new one?Another run to the appliance store, another swish of the credit card, and we only had to live with frozen foods for six more days.

On Thursday day, I got a call saying the truck delivering our new side-by-side would be there in thirty minutes. This gave me just enough time to move the contents of the old refrigerator into laundry baskets and boxes commandeered for the project. When the deliverymen arrived, they pulled out their tape measures, stretched it across our front door, and shook their heads.“Sorry. Doesn’t look like your new frig will fit through the door.” Some quick problem-solving resulted in a “through-the-lanai-if-we-dislodge-the-screen-door” option. An hour later, the old frig was in the truck and the new one was sitting in the middle of a kitchen filled with warming and—worst yet—melting food. 

“The new hose for the ice maker doesn’t work. Wrong clamp.” Roy explained from the back of the machine. “I’ll attach the old one.”

“As long as it works, I’’m fine with that,” I said.

Ten minutes later, the refrigerator was ready for the final push into place.

“It’s too wide,” said Roy. “I can’t get it into the space.”

“Just remove the molding,” I suggested.

“We don’t do that,” Roy informed me

“You are not leaving here until that refrigerator installed,” I said between gritted-minus-one-uncapped-molar teeth. “If I have to, I will remove the damn molding!”

Roy shrugged and tried more push. Miraculously, it squeaked in with centimeters to spare.Whew! After two hours of work, these guys deserved a tip, which I gave willingly.

Now let me offer a tip. Before the appliance people leave you with your new refrigerator, check to see if the ice maker and water dispenser work. As I write this, I am still waiting for the callback from the store to arrange for someone to come back and properly attach the line.

All the fails joined the Mr. Coffee, microwave, Ninja blender, electric tea kettle, toaster oven, and aforementioned clothes dryer that had all died in a six-month period. How many appliances did I have left to replace? To add to the mix, I blew  out two electrical outlets when I saturated a power strip while washing down our the lanai floor with a hose. 

The following week, Larry and I welcomed Chris and Bernie, old friends whom we hadn’t seen since the beginning of the pandemic, The four of us celebrated our reunion by enjoying a delicious dinner at a local Asian restaurant. 

As we were waiting for our waiter to return with our receipts, Chris noted that we hadn’t gotten any fortune cookies. “No problem!” I said. I walked up to the basket of cookies next to the cash register, grabbed four at random, and dropped them on our table. Mine read “GO FOR THE GOLD TODAY! YOU’LL BE THE CHAMPION OF WHATEVER!”

After all that had happened to us over the previous couple of weeks, I was pretty happy to get this fortune. As I shared it with everyone, I proclaimed, “A sign! My luck is changing!” 

As I was saying this, our waiter came by with the receipt and four more fortune cookies. When he saw we already had them, he said maybe these would be even better! I opened up mine, only to read this: IGNORE PREVIOUS COOKIE

In the scheme of things, these are all First World Problems. I only need to hear about another friend’s illness or read the latest headlines or see another heart-wrenching picture from the Ukraine, to remind myself that our challenges, as Rick tells Ilsa in the last moments of Casablanca, “don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.” A wise woman once told me, “If it can be [legally] fixed with money, consider yourself lucky.” We are grateful that we only have had to deal for a short time with unwashed clothes, dangerous doors, frozen eggs, and unfortunate fortune cookies!

You cannot make this stuff up!!! My fortune cookies May 7, 2022.

A version of this article originally appeared in the Jewish World News, a bi-weekly subscription-based newspaper in upstate New York.

6 thoughts on “Thank goodness they are only First World problems, OR That’s the way my cookie crumbles!

  1. Susan Hoff-Haynes

    Kitchen looks great. Larry is a gem two diamonds lighting the sky both of you. Sounds like a stressful week

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  2. Marty Helfand

    I for o e are proud my did so well with all this going on, at least there was o weather problems and you both were very patient thru it all, hope many others will be as kind and patient. I have to admit I have never had this many things decide to fail but it still may happen, thi king of you all this weekend, tablet is misbehaving, love Marty

    Reply

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