Joanne Palmer: Keeping time with the refrigerator |

Joanne Palmer: Keeping time with the refrigerator

It’s hard to forget something you are reminded of 31 times a day. If my child reminded me of something that frequently I’d go berserk.

But the zen-like hum of my refrigerator is something else, indeed. That something else, frankly, is my hard drive. Truth is, my refrigerator organizes my life. Totally and completely. I’ve tried “Week-at-a-glance,” Post-it notes, and even a razzle-dazzle cell phone complete with calendar and calculator but nothing works as well as the low-tech door of my refrigerator.

The door holds my on-going grocery list, the school lunch menu, and inspirational quotes. My favorite by Emily Dickenson, “We turn not older with years but newer every day.” It has a reminder notice for my high school reunion, emergency phone numbers and displays all of my appointments and a “to-do” list.

Two magnetized bins on the side are crammed with take out menus from local restaurants, receipts, bills, household budget, class schedules from the gym, and coupons, which I faithfully clip and fail to use. The door displays magnets that wonder where my hormones went, proclaim my status as a chocoholic and two that dare me to follow my crazy ideas. Every time I open the door to get milk I laugh at the cartoon that reminds me I’m under the care of two therapists, “Ben and Jerry.”

According to an in-depth study conducted by, “Me, Myself and I” the average family of four opens the refrigerator door 31 times a day; 48 on weekends. This excludes holiday and diet periods when rates can soar. This means I am exposed to all my reminders 251 times a week – which is precisely the number of times I need to schedule an appointment to rotate my tires or schedule a bone density screening.

When I was single I had no trouble carrying a planner and keeping track of my schedule. I exercised three times a week, remembered birthdays and got eight hours of sleep a night. I even flossed my teeth. My refrigerator door held concert and movie schedule, a list of food high in antioxidants, and my astrological compatibility guide.

As a newlywed, the compatibility guide surrendered to decadent desert recipes and a list of romantic getaways. Once I crossed the threshold into motherhood, I discovered what all mothers know but medical science doesn’t – all memory cells are destroyed during childbirth. New mothers carry planners that weigh 7 pounds, 8 ounces and keep them up half the night. Reminders stuck on the refrigerator door are the only hope of getting somewhere in the lifetime you’re suppose to be there. After a particularly maddening day with three children under the age of five, one frustrated mom I know posted her last will and testament smack in the center of her refrigerator door.

Interestingly, fatherhood enhances memory. New fathers never forget bowling leagues, poker nights or tee-off times. Their contribution to the refrigerator door will most likely be the stat sheet for the football playoff pool, a sale flyer for a new power tool or mulch.

Beware the individual with nothing on their refrigerator door. They suffer from a rare condition known as, “fridgafreakaphobia.” They are under the misguided notion that the sole purpose of a refrigerator is to keep food fresh. The adjusti-temp shelves are perfectly positioned to maximize air circulation. They date and label leftovers, alphabetize condiments and arrange them in descending height order. These people should never be invited to join your potluck group.

Somehow in this jumble of magnets, paper, photos and bins I find whatever I need and get where I’m going on time. Since I’ve given up on plastering Post-it notes reminders on all available surfaces and just used my refrigerator door I haven’t had an overdue fine from the library or the video store. And my hard drive never crashes.

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