Hygiene Factors

It's a big week for me – our new fridge/freezer arrives on Saturday. It inconveniently broke the week of our wedding when about 30 of my family members descended on London. And despite writing on this blog at the time how easy it was to get the repairman to come in and fix it, now it just sits there dead and broken. And we are finally defeated; we are just coughing up money for a new one.

Turns out it had a faulty part. And all three subsequent replacement parts were faulty too. We both did a good bit of chatting on the phone to the retailer, me in an entitled American not-so-composed sort of way, the Hub in a rational English way with dulcet tones. He did his best to coax them into keeping us as 'life-time customers' if only they would just replace the bloody thing.

Eventually it seemed our only option was to get it written-off, but that seemed to take even more effort. When it came down to it, I couldn't bring myself to make onemore  single phone call about it or work from home for yet another morning to greet yet another repair man. (I learned a lot about the electrical goods retail industry: 1) they make a lot of money from selling you expensive guarantees and goods of dubious quality 2) they sub contract out the repair work, which is then sub contracted out again to local repair people, who never answer the phone.)

The one good thing that came of the whole palaver was that one of the repair men found the Hub's wedding ring, which we lost about two weeks post wedding. (It was mysteriously sitting on top of the fridge).

Refrigerators are something that you only truly appreciate when they are gone. And I believe this makes them, in management/business school speak, hygiene factors. A hygiene factor is something that doesn't motivate you, but causes angst when it is no longer available. Like hot showers. No one jumps out of bed, excited by the prospect of a hot shower (do they?). When people talk about whether or not they are happy they don't usually say, "Things are good – the showers are hot." But when someone's shower runs out of hot water, my guess is that you hear about it that day at work – probably in more detail than you care for.

Having an extra fridge is definitely a hygiene factor. I'm sure once we get our new one you won't be reading any more blogs about it – I probably won't opine about how it's great to have the room to freeze extra bagels and have lots of ice handy. Or how we will now be able to keep white wine and beer nice and cold for when guests pop in unexpectedly (which happens ALL the time)*.

Hygiene factors mystify me. Why can't we harness them more for our happiness levels? Why don't roomy fridges, hot showers and warm beds send us skipping down the road?

Why does the absence of something annoy us but its presence is taken for granted? I don't really have much of an answer here, but I think it's worth thinking about as generally there is much we take for granted.

As a generally grumpy morning person, when things are worse than usual, I do try to turn it around by thinking of what I've got to be thankful for on my walk to the train station. Sometimes it starts with a very grim "I least I have legs." But at least that's a start.

*For full disclosure here, the tiny fridge that came with the flat is an under-counter one and we also have a small dorm-sized freezer from our old flat. We have been surviving on these two boxy devices since March. I spend my days sitting on the floor to look in the fridge and trying to cram everything into the freezer without ruining our four frozen wedding cupcakes that we hope to eat on our first anniversary.
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