Is your refrigerator running?

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Turning Point by Beth Irvine

Did you pull this stunt, too? You - while the bunch listen in, sharing the receiver - call up someone on the phone, hoping one of the parents will answer because the kids who live there might recognize your voice. The idea is to start a pleasant conversation and then catch the unsuspecting victim with, “Is your refrigerator running?” 

Often there’s a little pause while the fridge is checked and, of course, the refrigerator is always running (They endure forever, don’t they? I’d bet that at least one of you has one of those fridges with the compressor on top still whirring away at the cottage). Then, the voice comes back to the phone, “Yes? Yes it is.” Then you deliver the punch line, “Then you better run and catch it!” Hang up as soon as soon as you hear the laughter and flop on the floor while giggles cascade over all. Good fun!

The gag relied on the two things: one, that no one knew it was you who were phoning and two, that not too many similar gags had been played so recently that whoever picked up the other end was ready for you. You knew your goose was cooked when the chuckles started in reply to the refrigerator question, with no opening to deliver the punch line. Or some wise guy would quip, “Got ‘er bolted to the floor!” Spoilers. It was time to find another way to pull a leg.

How would you ever make it work today? The would-be victims have call display. They wouldn’t be unsuspecting if they knew it was coming from the neighbourhood jokers and they wouldn’t answer at all if it was an unrecognized number. We all get tired of the “pranks” of today (“Your computer seems to be malfunctioning”; “You have won a cruise”; and “Would you like to participate in this plan for taking money from your pocket and placing it in mine?”). These “jokers” are greedy and they’re looking for something less amusing than a good laugh. Now and then, I do look on the good, old days with a certain amount of longing.

Ten years ago, when we bought our fridge, I thought it would see me out, as my grandmother used to say. Life has taught me that you have to plan back up for the other things we rely on electricity for - heating, cooking and reading— but cooling? The idea never so much as tiptoed into my mind. 

So, while we are waiting to hear from the refrigerator repair folks, we scan the flyers for “cool deals” and replace the ice in the dead fridge icebox every 12 hours. Our luck is in: the deep freeze continues to hum away but, today, I’m having a little trouble seeing the humour in the situation. Today, I’d be really grateful for someone to call that prank on my number. 

“Is your fridge running?” you could ask.

“No,” I would reply.

Then we could both have a good laugh. 

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