The $6000 Sub-zero, for Free

The contractor was coming to the end of my kitchen remodel. He spent two days fine-tuning cabinet doors, trim pieces, switch-plate covers, and paint touch-up. But the old sub-zero refrigerator freezer that he had rolled into a corner in front of my sliding glass door three months before, still sat there, empty.

“I need to find the three-plug switch plate cover for you,” he said. “I’ll run down to Home Depot later today.”

I looked at the missing cover by the sink plugs and looked over to the sub-zero.

“Ted, this is a little thing,” I said, pointing to the wall switch. “That is a big thing,” I said, pointing to the old fridge.

The appliance delivery people had refused to take it. Ted and I discussed how we were going to get it out of my house.  Ted had no ideas and no strong friends. He is in his sixties, like me.

“It weighs 400 pounds,” Ted said. “Plus it’s top-heavy. I don’t think my back can do it.”

“I’ll put it on Craigslist tomorrow, “ I said. “ Someone will take it for free.”

The next day Ted came back to finish up yet another add-on job for me.  I wanted him to build me a lattice screen along the fence to block a view of my yard from the renters moving in to the two-story house next door. The helper who works for him sometimes and me sometimes also came over.

I made the listing and put up the photos. Within five minutes I got a hit. Then I got another one. I went outside to tell Ted.

“I’m not going to hurt my back just so someone can have a fee refrigerator!” he said.

Wtf? Then I remembered he had a new girlfriend. Of course he was worried about his back.

I went back inside to iron my big $1700.00 order for a school in Minnesota.

Six more people had asked about the sub-zero when I got back to my laptop. Would I hold it for them until 4:00? Would I wait until tomorrow? It was Friday morning.  One couple in Benicia looked promising. They had a trailer and an appliance dolly, just like I’d said in the post. I answered them. They were on their way. I emailed the first guy and asked him if he still wanted it. He had gone radio silent.

The couple from Benicia said they were on their way. I asked her how strong the guy was, since Ted had told me he wasn’t going to help. She assured me that he was a strong guy.

Forty minutes later, as I continued to iron, the doorbell rang. When I opened it, there was a tall thin man, about fifty, saying he had come for the refrigerator. I looked out to the street and saw a large mini-van.

“Where is the trailer? Do you have a helper? An appliance dolly?”

All the man had was his mini-van and himself. He showed me how big it was on the inside. He had brought a small furniture dolly with him. I  told him no way. He insisted it would fit.

“No, I am sorry, It’s seven feet tall,” I said. “And too heavy.”

He followed me into the kitchen, walked over to the unattached built-in and proceeded to rock it with his arms.

“Stop!” I said. “It’s top-heavy.”

I led the guy back to my porch. He begged and pleaded and told me how far he’d come.

“I’ll call my friend to come help me,” he said.

“The couple from Benicia will get here before your friend does,” I said.

“I really want it,” he said. “Please?”

“I’m sorry. You don’t have a helper or a truck. You can’t have it. Too much liability.”

“You said your contractor would help,” he said. “I drove all the way from Castro Valley.”

I had said that in the post before Ted had announced he wasn’t going to help.

“I am sorry,” I said.

By this point the worker helper had figured out what was going on.

“Just leave!” she barked at the man.

I went back inside and tried to resume ironing the big order.

Then the doorbell rang again. It was the thin man again, continuing to beg.

This is the problem with Craigslist, especially when things are free.. I told him again no, and that I was sorry, but that there was too much liability for him to take it. Then my contractor came out form the back yard and told the guy no. He finally left.

The Benicia couple came, the young guy strapped it to his dolly and asked me to move the floor protection boards so that he wouldn’t scratch my floor. Kelly and I did all that. It makes me tired just to type this. The contractor helped the guy get the behemoth down the step to my front porch and across the flagstone path. I gave the couple a cheap bottle of Costco wine as a thank you for getting the monster out of my house. I gave everyone a bottle of wine that day.

When I told my girlfriend this saga, she asked me how much I got for the $6000 sub-zero that had broken three times in the last eight years, the sub-zero that had shorted out a wall circuit and fried the wires in the wall three years earlier on Thanksgiving. That’s right, folks. It had been illegally installed and did not have a designated circuit.

“Nothing,“ I said.  “I gave them a bottle of wine.”

“My daughter would’ve taken it,” she said.

No way, Jose, I thought to myself. Too much liability.

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