Friday, September 02, 2011

A Stinking Welcome

We landed at BWI early this morning, about a half hour after midnight. By the time we got our luggage and caught the shuttle to long term parking, it was after one a.m. We were the only ones on the shuttle bus and the driver dropped us close to where the truck was parked; he even asked if we wanted him to wait until we got the truck started. I confidently said, "No, that's okay. We'll be fine. Thank you, though."

I was never happier to see our truck. I couldn't wait to get in, drop my bags and get into my amazingly comfortable bed, falling off to sleep in the sub-zero temperature I keep it at. The flight was miserable as usual - tight, hot and too long. I've decided that I'm really not into flying anymore and if I can help it, all future vacations will have to be within driving distance, and if we ever go to Europe again, I'm going to have to book a trans-atlantic cruise, because I can't bear the idea of the flight.

It was a long day. We woke up at eight, checked out of the room at eleven and then headed to the airport. We got there half-past noon but our flight didn't leave until a quarter to four. Three hours. Then the flight was delayed and we didn't leave until almost five. It'd be an hour and a half to Miami, where we'd have dinner in the airport before taking a two and a half hour flight to Baltimore.
I was more than thrilled to be looking at our truck, gleaming under the parking lot lights. When we got to the truck, Ed went in the front, while I stood at the back waiting for him to open the door. He took a very long time to get to the back door. Naturally, I was annoyed.

Finally, he opened the door. His first words were, "We have no power. The truck is dead." They should have been, "Oh my God, I think there's a dead body in here." The food in the fridge had gone bad. The smell was overpowering. I honestly don't even know how he kept standing there, it was assaulting me and I was standing outside, at least nine feet away. If only I could photograph scent.

We dropped the bags inside, opened all the doors and windows and tried to figure out what the problem was. The truck didn't start, the generator wouldn't go on. Nothing. What could have caused this? The way it should have worked is that when the batteries ran low, the generator would kick on and charge them and then repeat the cycle, over and over again. But now we had nothing. And at this hour of the morning, there wasn't a soul around to help.

Ed wandered about looking for something, anything to get us out of our predicament. What he found was a call box that alerted the airport authority to the fact that one needed help. So he called and they were sending someone over for a jump start. The guy who finally showed up was very nice and very helpful, trying for about an hour with Ed to get the truck started, but nothing worked. By now, it was three in the morning. We decided to call the Road Squad at the T/A. They said they'd be out in thirty minutes, but they took an hour. When the Road Squad guy got arrived, he suggested we might have run out of gas. Our gas gauge read that we were half full, so Ed wasn't convinced that not having any fuel was the problem. But it couldn't hurt to add more and see what happened. The Road Squad guy didn't have any fuel with him, so he had to go back to the T/A to get some, but told us before he did that, he had to go on another road call but he'd be back as soon as that was done. Oh. My. God. It was about four-thirty now and I was zombie-like, but there was no way I could sleep in the truck with that smell, so I figured I should probably just tackle the fridge.

I had snatched a big, black, industrial garbage bag from the airport guy, knowing I was going to have to do this eventually. I was not looking forward to it as I abhor foul smells. When I opened the fridge door, dead body juice oozed out. I quickly shut the door and covered the floor with paper towels. I needed gloves.

I quickly pulled on latex gloves and went back to the refrigerator. When I opened the door, I was assaulted by an odor that made me want to vomit. It smelled like rotten menstrual blood on a used tampon, mixed with the smell of a dead body. Any girl who has ever used a public bathroom knows the first smell, the second I'm just guessing at.

The shelves on the door were full of water from the ice that melted in the freezer. Floating in the water was a $12.00 wedge of Locatelli cheese, waterlogged and mushy. Next to that, goat cheese and a stick of butter. I threw away every single item in the fridge, except for three little bottles of diet coke and two cans of pears. I had milk, eggs, bacon, produce, three containers of my favorite cottage cheese, yogurt, salad dressing, mayo, sour cream, a jar of olives, lunch meat, American cheese...

In the freezer I had burritos, taquitos, two pounds of butter, steak (which was disgusting), frozen veggies, pizza dough, tater tots, frozen waffles and a bag of shrimp that was puffed up to the point of bursting. It probably smelled like a whore's nether regions inside, so I lifted it out of freezer like it was a Fabergé egg; I didn't want it to break and spray me with the vile smelling liquid that was surely inside. Unfortunately, it would have been a familiar smell; on our vacation we found a conch and two starfish, and let me tell you, the smell of dying marine life has got to be exactly the same as decomposing corpse.

I felt like I was on one of those hoarder shows. I can just see one of those freaks telling me that the yogurt wasn't bad because the container hadn't burst yet, or that if I re-froze the taquitos, they'd be just fine. Honestly, I don't know how people live like that. Once everything was out, I cleaned the fridge with some bleach water and 409 spray but it still smelled rancid.

It was almost five a.m. and the Road Squad guy still wasn't back. I had been working by candle and flashlight and at this point I was tired, sweating like a migrant worker, and as thirsty as a camel. I didn't know how I was going to get the smell out of the refrigerator; it was between the cracks and in all the rubber weatherstripping seal stuff. I started to cry.

Ed asked, "What's wrong with you? Why are you crying?"

Really? Why am I crying? I'm sleep-deprived, I'm knee deep in vomit water, I'm wearing rubber gloves and my home-on-wheels smells like a dumpster. I was so frustrated to get back to the truck to find this and I was expecting to be in bed, fast asleep by this hour.

After sitting in the dark, watching the sky get lighter as the sun came up, smelling the foul odor still lingering in the air, Ed and I decided to pull the fridge out and get rid of it. Once we pulled it out, we saw where water had seeped into the thermal lining; it would have never smelled right. Ed said he wasn't going to ruin a $200,000.00 truck for a $1,200.00 fridge.

The Road Squad guy finally came back around six-thirty, brought us about fifty gallons of fuel, jump-started the truck, and got us on our way. We followed him back to the T/A where we purchased new batteries and where Ed threw away the garbage from the fridge. I feel really bad for the guy who has to empty that garbage can. It weighed a ton and the smell, especially if left any longer, was going to be unbearable once close to it.

By the time they were done with all the battery stuff, it was after nine. We had been up for over twenty-four hours at this point and I was starving and a little delirious. Ed went to get us some breakfast, we ate and then I had to lie down. Ed was tired too, but he had to wrap up the billing stuff. He's kind of robotic, so I knew he'd be able to stay awake longer than me and get it all done.

So after all was said and done, the road call and the batteries ran us about $1,200.00 and the new fridge is going to cost about the same. There's still a slight smell in the truck (that of a dirty bleach rag, the kind they always use to wipe down tables at restaurants, leaving behind that rancid smell on the table), but as I type this, I notice it's going away. A few days of burning my Lemon Verbena candle should take care of it. Hopefully, it'll be as good as new.

This little incident has made me realize that I'm no longer very tolerant of these kinds of situations. I hate sweating, I hate being inconvenienced, I hate unpleasant smells and I fucking hate cleaning. This hard-core type of cleaning is something I'd rather hire (or bribe) someone else to do. The only stinky thing I really enjoy is cheese. I could never be a parent and wipe an ass.

This was not the way I anticipated my first day back, especially since I was so looking forward to returning, but everything is sorted now and the only thing left to do is get the new fridge. I know we just had a month off, but since it's a holiday weekend, we won't be going back to work until after Labor Day. O
n the upside, since we don't have a fridge, we'll be dining out all weekend.

My kind of holiday.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The Star Of The Spinning Centerpiece
My Nizzl Fa Shizzl
When You’re Smiling
I’ve Been Everywhere Sunday
Decision Dilemma
Alaska Later


Marlaina said...

Oh My Gosh! I am verklempt, completely without words. I can't think of anything worse. You have captured the intensity of the scene and the odor, my nostrils burned as I read your post.

Unbelievably that is one of the fears in a hurricane, the power goes out, everything in the fridge is lost, but not found until it's too late, much too late.

I am getting MacGyver onto our batteries ASAP, the inverter has been a little funky for while throwing low voltage then high voltage codes.

I hope you're at the good TA with all the shopping and restaurants around.

MAE said...

OMG...poor baby...this post was so well-written that I could smell the smells and feel your frustration. I would have cried too. Glad you are back on USA soil and hope to see you real soon because we love you guys.

Dixie said...

So sorry you had to come back to this. I was concerned about the truck in all of the weather..Our next door neighbor's freezer went out last year and they dumped everything into the shared dumpster. If he didn't work for the sheriff, I would swear they had dumped a body in it. Gross plus. Hope all is well soon and smells good. Love you.

Ms. Crawford said...

Ugh! I am so sorry what a crappy way to return from such a great time... But at least y'all got through it and found a way to make it work. Hope you get something yummy to eat you deserve it!

Belledog said...


You and Eddie are made of stronger stuff than moi. Even as you drove up to the truck well after midnight, and after finding the unpleasantness within, I was thinking "hotel. hotel. hotel." Breakfast, STRONG coffee, and then deal with the coroner's exhibits.

Hope changing the fridge unit solves the issue.

Go lemon verbena.

And Salena -- you would be an awesome journalist.