Monday, August 30, 2004

Adventures of the lost fridge

The refrigerator in my teaching lab was ancient. The seals around the doors died years (if not decades) ago, and thus both the fridge and freezer kept filling with ice. It was so bad that the freezer was completely filled with ice, and I had to chip ice off the fridge insides monthly if I wanted to be able to close the door. We primarily used it to store formaldehyde preserved specimens, since it was completely unreliable for anything else.

Last week, however, I learned that another lab on campus was getting a new fridge. The fridge they were replacing was probably bought 20 years ago, but it was in great shape, and once I showed them the condition of my fridge they kindly offered to give me their old one for free. For some reason the maintenance folks decided the best time to do the fridge moving was 6am this past Saturday morning, so nobody was around when they did the switch.

I got in this morning to find the nice "new" fridge in my lab, but upon opening it discovered that the specimens that used to be in the old fridge were nowhere to be seen. Our lab tech was, understandably, rather concerned (though apparently not concerned enough to call the facilities people herself, since she had been in at least four hours by the time I arrived).

I quickly grabbed a cart, figured out where they'd taken the fridge, and ran off to try and save what I could, imagining the worst. I finally found the fridge in our campus facilities yard, standing against a wall in direct sun, complete with a small puddle of water under it. The sight was not encouraging.

I hesitantly opened the door, prepared to duel the armies of fungus and bacteria lurking inside, but to my surprise found that everything in the fridge was still cold! The secret to this mini-miracle was the freezer: even after two days in full sun it was still half full of ice, so it kept the rest of the unit cold. Let's all hear it for freezers full of ice!

So, in the end nothing too valuable was lost (though some algae samples have likely bit it), but this was definitely not how I anticipated starting the first day of my new semester.

No comments: