Illustration by Denis Shifrin

Two days ago, on a Friday morning, we awoke to find a small puddle of water by the refrigerator. Oh-oh, what now? I opened the refrigerator and, although it was humming, it didn’t sound right and it didn’t seem cold. The items in the freezer were not frozen solid.

Fortunately, we have a wonderful repairman who services all our major appliances. His name is Eitan M. He is very reliable. His prices are very fair. And he gives receipts as a matter of course. He does not have to be asked.

“Eitan, it’s Eli Libenson from Givat Shmuel calling.” “Ah, hello.” (He remembers who I am, despite having many other satisfied customers.) “Eitan, we seem to have a problem with the refrigerator. There is a puddle of …” “Wait, Eli, before you continue I have to tell you that I’m sick today. I can’t get out of bed. I’m sorry.” “Oh. Feel better, Eitan. Can we wait till Sunday? The food in the freezer seems to have defrosted.” “If it’s the freezer, don’t wait.” “Can you recommend someone whom we can call?” “The only person I can recommend has moved to Netanya. That’s pretty far from you. Try to find someone local.” “Thanks, Eitan, and, once again, feel better.”

Oy! Who could I call? Every few months a Yellow Pages arrives at our front door. The thicker one is Tel Aviv and vicinity; the thinner one, the Ono Valley and vicinity. That’s us. Sometimes an even thinner book arrives, “Hamiktzoanim”— the Professionals of the Ono Valley and vicinity. And once in a blue moon we get a copy of “Yatzata Tzadik” — You Have Been Found to be a Righteous Person of the Ono Valley and vicinity. This is my go-to book for service people. The only problem is that the last issue that arrived at our home is dated 2012.

I take a chance. I look up refrigerators and find “Jimmy” (not his real name), an expert in all kinds of refrigerator repair. It’s 8am, Friday morning. I call Jimmy on his cell phone. He answers,  a little groggy,  a little surprised. I explain the problem. “What make is your refrigerator?” I look at my refrigerator door. “It’s an Amcor Platinum.” “Was it made in Israel?” “Hmmm. I don’t know.” “Look on the back of the refrigerator, it’s written there.” Our refrigerator sits in its own nook. I’ll have to pull it out to see. Holding the phone in one hand while pulling on the refrigerator doesn’t seem to work. It’s like driving and simultaneously talking on a hand-held phone – don’t do it. “Jimmy, I’ll have to call you back in a few minutes.” “Okay.”

I managed to pull out the refrigerator. (What would an elderly woman living alone do?) And, indeed, there is a sticker on which are written the blessed words, “Made in Israel.” I call Jimmy back. He seems more alert. “Hi Jimmy. Our refrigerator was made in Israel. Can you come?” “I can. I’ll be there around 10am.”

For the next two hours, I fret. What if Jimmy doesn’t come? I pace around the house. Every few minutes I check on the puddle of water. It’s getting bigger, one drop at a time. The water is coming from the bottom of the freezer door. I tell my wife that at 10am sharp, if Jimmy hasn’t arrived, I’m going to call him. It’s 10:00, and Jimmy hasn’t arrived. I call him. He answers the phone. (Thank God for small mercies.) “Jimmy? It’s Eli from Givat Shmuel.” “I’ll be there in ten minutes.” And ten minutes later, Jimmy is at our door.

He opens the freezer compartment. “Do you have a kum-kum (an electric kettle)?” he asks me. “I do.” “Then, make me a kum-kum of hot water.” “Do you mean for a cup of coffee?” “No, I want to melt the ice.” I boil the water and leave the kitchen. I can’t look.

From the living room, I hear loud sharp, cracking noises – it’s ice being broken up. After 15 minutes of this, Jimmy’s phone rings. I hear him say that he’ll be there in about 20 minutes. I feel relief. It means he thinks he has finished with us. And he is.

“It’s fixed,” Jimmy says. “The fan was stuck. It wasn’t turning.” (Later, it occurred to me that it was a result of a buildup of ice.) “Oh, thank you, Jimmy. And how much do we owe you?” My check book is in my hand. “Two hundred fifty shekels. You don’t have cash?” “I can go to the bank around the corner, if you’d like.” One good turn deserves another. “It’ll take 10 minutes.” “Okay. I can wait. It’s Friday, you know. Tomorrow is Shabbat. The banks are closed. I’ll wait in my car.”

On my way from the bank, my wife calls. There’s still a drip from the freezer. “Don’t worry,” Jimmy says, as I hand him the money through the window of his car. “It will stop.” “Well, okay. And, uh, thanks, Jimmy. You saved us.” (I always say this to our repairmen. It just gushes out of me.) “It’s my job,” he answers modestly.

An hour and a half later, there’s still a drip. I call Jimmy. “It’s natural. It will stop.” And, sure enough, after a while, it did. The freezer hummed robustly, the food froze as it should, and everything returned to normal – a good two or three hours before the advent of the Sabbath.

Of course, we would have preferred Eitan to come. We know him. We feel comfortable with him. We rely on him. But he couldn’t. In his place we found Jimmy. In Eitan we have full confidence; with Jimmy we are building trust.

 

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Comments

Marlwnw
2016-02-05
Loved the story..it made my day. I think everyone can relate to that experience.
Daly
2016-02-06
Great story! Glad it got fixed before Shabbat :)
steve wolotsky
2016-02-12
Just a great story by a great story teller.

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About the author

Eli Libenson

Eli Libenson is a graduate of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, New York, and served as a Conservative rabbi in Plainview, NY, for 13 years before making aliyah in 1984. He taught junior ...
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