I don’t know if you know this, but this week I moved from my Oxford-TEFL housing to a shiny new apartment. We can see A) the metro and B) the giant Prague baby tower from the front of our flat. It’s a pretty fantastic place.
Why yes, those ARE giant, faceless babies crawling up the television tower.
This week was spent in a flurry of lease-signings, gas / internet meetings, furniture movement, and 1 too many Ikea trips (in addition to teaching. And lesson planning. And extensive metro travel. And good lord Jesus I am tired).
There was only one problem with our new flat: no refrigerator.
Us: “Can you get one for us?”
Landlord (Ll): “For 5000 Kč.”
Us: “Can we take that out of the security deposit?”
Us: “Can you get anything cheaper?”
Us: “What if we pay for half, and you pay for half?”
(If I’m giving you the impression that our landlord is anything but a straight up businessman, don’t be alarmed. Dude just knows what he wants. I actually really like him- and his three mystery siblings, who all own shares of the apt. We met his brother and I swear to god they are at least twins. I like to imagine they are quadruplet brothers, actually, differing only length of hair and manner of dress).
Obviously we did not want to shell out that much money for a stupid appliance. And so, being the intrepid young English teachers that we are, we went online to find a used one in Prague. And lo! So we did. For a beautiful 1500 Kč- a mere 76 US dollars. Not bad, right?*
So! Saturday morning, the day we had to move out, we got up bright and too-freaking-early to go out and retrieve this fridge. Which we would then have to carry back to the flat ourselves, but hey! we’re young and intrepid and we are going to save money WOO HOO.
How we felt
How we were about to feel
Vanessa, Liam and I got off the tram and arrived in one of the sketchier areas of Prague.
“Where did she say she lived again?” I asked Liam.
“Next to the, and I’m quoting here, ‘Paki restaurant,’” Liam replied. We had a bit of a nervous chuckle over the fridge owner’s racism.**
Soon Broanna*** came down and let us in. She was wearing pajamas and was a little skinny, but seemed very nice. The apartment building was run down inside, with peeling wallpaper and a little bit of trash in the corners of the floors, but the railings were iron and pretty so I chalked it up to ‘character’ and went on in.****
We got up to her apartment after maybe three flights of stairs, which would later prove fun to climb with a fridge in hand. Broanna’s front door opened to a dark, heavily wood-panelled hall, which was also quite cluttered. I was instantly enveloped in the smell of stale ramen noodles and used canola oil, as well as a general air of neglect. And darkness.
“I have some friends staying with me,” Broanna threw over her shoulder as she led us through the flat. And indeed she did! They appeared as we walked through, as if they’d been hiding in the cracks, waiting nervously to see if it was safe to emerge: skinny, sleepy, and uniformly bleary eyed and twitchy. Broanna led us into an equally dark kitchen/living room, in which was more furniture & clutter. Additionally, there were at least three mattresses laid out on the floor that had been recently used.
“Here it is,” Broanna said. Before us was a small fridge. A little beat up, perhaps, but in the poor light it didn’t look too bad. It wasn’t plugged in and it smelled weird, which again should have been a no no.
Broanna hovered over our shoulders as we looked the thing over. Vanessa, being the sensible one, made her skepticism clear. Unfortunately we did not listen to her, and with Broanna peering over our shoulders it was difficult to have a frank discussion. SO! We forked over the cash, maneuvered the thing out of the
meth den apartment, down the stairs, and set it down on the sidewalk.
Where we immediately realized we’d made a huge mistake.
We (and by ‘we’ I mean Liam, in his role as token male) got it across the street before bits and pieces started to fall off. At this point, it was quite clear that none of us wanted the damn thing, and we certainly didn’t want to bring it into our lovely, clean, newly-renovated apartment. After all, it:
- Smelled strongly of mold, ramen, and burnt plastic
- Had a mysterious pink dust all over the coils on the back
- Was missing the drawers inside, as well as the metal plate that would cover the mechanical stuff in the back
- Had mysterious plastic pieces on the inside
- Was home to an angry, anthropomorphic cockroach named Larry. Larry did not take kindly to our disturbance of his home.*****
We definitely wanted our money back. So we called up Broanna and tried a number of tactics- apologetic remorse, careful explanation of how the fridge did not live up to her advertisement, growing annoyance that she had sold us this piece of crap. We even offered to let her keep five hundred ks as well as to carry the fridge back up to her flat, which meant that she could make more of a profit in the long-run than she’d made from us.
Obviously, this did not work.
We hung up, now saddled with a fridge we didn’t want and substantially lighter wallets. So what did we do? We dumped the damn thing by a dumpster across the street from Broanna’s aparment, that’s what. And then we
ran off in a panic calmly walked away, chalking it up to another lesson learned in Prague.
And that lesson, my friends:
If you go to buy something 2nd hand and it lives in an apartment that looks like a meth den, don’t buy it.
Bonus lesson: Listen to your mother when she tells you to spend more money on something that works, rather than going cheap and getting a piece of crap in return.
(This story ends with a trip to Ikea. Our new 5000 Kč fridge will arrive tomorrow evening.)
*…looking back, it’s all so obvious.
**How did we not know?!?
***I changed her name. She doesn’t deserve a normal name.
****I repeat: How did we not know?
*****This is a lie, but the kind of lie that is perfectly plausible. Seriously. You should have seen this thing.