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Stank

Yesterday, besides working, I undertook the most revolting experience I have had to endure since I would say, 1995, when I worked at Ben Schwartz Food Mart back in Peoria.

Last week, I was in my friend Nick's car, on the way back from Lawrence. We had just watched the season premiere of Parks and Recreation, and a good time was had by all in attendance. I got a series of texts from my roommate about how the keg was pouring 90% head. The keg is from my favorite possession: my kegerator.

Anyway, I promised my roommate that I would look into it when I got home, and put it out my mind. I checked it out the next morning, and in my various times in and out of the fridge to check pressure gauges and stuff, I noticed that the top of the main fridge door was wet. I opened the freezer and it wasn't even slightly cool inside. I looked down at the wall and saw that the kegerator was unplugged. Because of the appendage we use to regulate the temperature inside, the unit will very easily become unplugged.

I explained to my roommate that it was because the beer had warmed up that it was pouring mostly head. I plugged it back in, and the compressor kicked on immediately. Upset by the loss of a fair quantity of meat and seafood that had completely thawed, we disposed of a couple of items from the freezer and went about our business.

By Friday evening, a tinge started to manifest in the air. I didn't notice it, but my roommate wore a disgusted look on his face from it. I assumed then, that it was me, and sheepishly went to take a shower. By saturday however, it was an outright stench throughout the common area of the whole apartment. Walking in the front door was a wall of stench. It took us at least a day to figure out what was going on. We turned the place upside-down trying to place the odor. My roommate was certain that some sewer gas had belched up through the kitchen sink, so he filled the sink with water. But over the next day, the stench only got worse. The closest thing I can think of to compare it to would be like the pen of unhealthy livestock. But even that doesn't do it justice.

But I was sitting at my desk yesterday, and it occurred to me that the stench appeared at about the same time as the kegerator caper, and I decided that the two events couldn't have been coincidental. We zeroed in on the kegerator and found that the smell's intensity had a zero added to its arbitrary measurement of revulsion, when we were close to the kegerator.

So we performed surgery on the kegerator, convinced that somewhere inside it there was a foul reservoir of thawed meat and seafood leavings that had to be cleaned out. In our exploratory surgery, we discovered the path of the drainage was actually determined by design. the natural slope of the floor of the freezer led back to a catch that fed into a pipe that went down. We followed that down to the bottom-rear of the unit, and there, sure enough, perhaps two quarts of the most vile liquid I have ever seen or smelled had accumulated.

I unplugged the fridge, propped the freezer door open, and we stuck a couple plates of baking soda into the freezer. We left for a while, and when I returned, I pulled the fridge away from the wall in such a way that the pan was as exposed as possible, and tried to think of a way to tackle it. It was attached to the compressor, so the only way to pull it out would have been to detach the compressor's housing and unwire it, and I wasn't about to do that. Between the lip of the pan and the heat-dissipating grated structure of the refrigerator's rear was perhaps an inch of clearance into which I could insert something to extract the reeking poisonous liquid.

So, the most effective method I found was to take a large spoon and bail the pan out a tablespoon at a time, over the course of about an hour, enduring the mortally toxic odor all the while. Three times I had to break away to breathe out my nausea. After it was done, I put a bunch of baking soda into the pan, and sprayed down the floor with 409. I boiled the spoon for about 40 minutes before putting it in the dishwasher. Maybe some day it can be used again.

1:25 PM, Sep 26, 2011

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