Living Matters: A fridge can speak volumes

You could tell a lot about my mother by looking in her fridge. It was beyond orderly.

The jams were lined up in the top left, raspberry through to marmalade. The dairy was on the top right: the cream, the skim and the two-per-cent.

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There was the pickle section, the condiment region, the cheese department, the deli-meat-and bacon drawer.

There was, it seems to me, even something that might best be described as the miscellaneous zone, where unrelated things would have been positioned. Maraschino cherries, say. Chicken broth. Leftovers.

As I say, a fridge speaks volumes about the person who fills it. My mother was clearly no nonsense.

I mention this because the subject of refrigerator order came up at the workplace water cooler the other day. (I know: weird, but WWC chats can be like that, especially when there’s nothing particularly remarkable happening in the sports/weather/movie department).

It began when a colleague made an offhand remark that her best friend was something of a refrigerator hoarder.

“No kidding!” someone else said. “How many refrigerators does she have?”

“Oh, only one!” said the colleague. “She’s a hoarder when it comes to putting stuff in it!”

She told us that the best friend’s fridge was 120-per-cent full. This did not seem possible to me, until she explained that the friend has pickle jars on top of pickle jars on top of pickle jars. She likely has four dozen bottles of salad dressing and five dozen jars of jam.

The colleague told us that there are nether regions of the friend’s refrigerator that have not been visited in years, so the bulk of thing is probably crammed with mouldy items woefully past their best-before dates.

“Yuck!” we all said.

I am, I must say, neither my mother nor the hoarder. My refrigerator is certainly not 120-per-cent full, but it also doesn’t contain a dedicated pickle section or condiment region.

The milk always goes on the top shelf, but that’s simply because it’s the only place where it will fit, and not because I have a designated dairy department.

My fridge, in other words, isn’t packed, but it’s largely miscellaneous.

There should, it seems to me, be courses on refrigerator management on offer. I don’t think there are, so I will make a mental note to tackle this in retirement, whenever that may be.

One day, I’ll be my mother’s daughter and organize my fridge. The last thing I want is to cram it too full, and be the target of workplace discussion.

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