What’s on top of your refrigerator?

By Greg Schwem | February 9th, 2024

A not-uncommon storage space

moving boxes in a kitchen, by Iofoto. Article, humorous take asking what's on top of your refrigerator

After downsizing, humorist Greg Schwem realizes many homes have an under-utilized storage spot. “What’s on top of your refrigerator?” he asks, revealing the occupants of his own.

In May 2023, while in the early stages of a life change, I made the decision to live a minimalist existence, also defined as, “purge crap from my life.”

Gone were most contents of a 4,400-square-foot house; kept was, well, very little, save clothes, bedding, computer equipment and a juicer. Hey, minimalists need svelte figures. I once stayed in an Airbnb billed as a “tiny house” and realized I could never exist in such quarters without maintaining a gym membership.

After signing a lease on a 650-square-foot condominium, unpacking, and utilizing every inch of every cabinet (three), closet (two) and drawer (six) I was left with two moving boxes containing assorted items of varying shapes, sizes and uses. All had survived the purge. For now, anyway. I have yet to use the electric wine chiller I brought along, but, again, it has only been eight months.

So where to store these remaining … things?

Then I spied it.

The top of my refrigerator.

Oh yes, that oasis of storage for city dwellers, studio apartment renters and people who really need a visit from a professional “organizer” or the production team of “Hoarders.” Over the years, I’ve visited single friends and married couples who’ve used the space for everything from a Dutch oven to a nativity set, to Star Wars figures, still in their original packaging. One friend’s dog spent most of its day gazing upward and barking incessantly, seeing that the fridge top contained its food source, encased in a 20-pound bag.

In my prior dwelling, the refrigerator top held only a fly swatter. Its whereabouts were invisible to guests but known to my family, which is key when insects invade one’s home. Forgetting where you put a fly swatter on a summer day is akin to not remembering where you store your .38 caliber revolver after a burglar has made entry.

Homeowners and kitchen remodelers, before you design a built-in cabinet for that shiny new refrigerator, remember that doing so eliminates storage space. The fridge top needs nothing but air above it. Only then can it hold that two-pound jar of protein powder or that cardboard tray containing 32 cans of Diet Coke.

Yes, I shop at Costco. No, I couldn’t shop there without a refrigerator top to hold the items I return with.

Within minutes, I had utilized every centimeter, with items of no similarity or continuity. An enormous jar of peanut butter-filled pretzels and a tub of oatmeal served as bookends. In between stood a few barbecue recipe books I’d brought along, even though barbecue grills are forbidden at my condominium high-rise, unless one chooses to use the community rooftop gas grill, 34 stories above my unit.

I positioned them at the refrigerator top’s rear, leaving ample space in front for a mixing bowl set and a toaster oven. Reasoning that my unit contained an oven and I rarely eat toast, this seemed a no-brainer decision. Plus, it freed up valuable counter space for the juicer, quickly becoming part of my daily nutritional regimen.

I hoisted a plastic bucket up there, first filling it with a bottle of Pine-Sol, a few rags and a mini broom/dustpan combo. I surveyed the remaining moving container contents and decided the mobile file box, crammed full of tax statements, receipts and other financial documents, would round out the fridge top space quite nicely. Along with the wine chiller.

I broke down the now-empty moving cartons with a satisfied smile. I now felt officially “moved in,” ready to begin my minimalist existence.

If auditors ever come knocking, asking to see my business records, I can confidently reach above and produce everything they requested, while offering them a tasty peanut butter snack. Or a slice of toast. Paired with a cold chardonnay.

And, when they leave, I will clean and disinfect the place. While barbecued ribs sizzle above me.

Greg Schwem is a corporate stand-up comedian and author of two books: Text Me If You’re Breathing: Observations, Frustrations and Life Lessons From a Low-Tech Dad and the recently released The Road To Success Goes Through the Salad Bar: A Pile of BS From a Corporate Comedian, available at Amazon.com. Visit Greg on the web at www.gregschwem.com.

© 2024 Greg Schwem. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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