A "chilling" inspiration

By Adam Glasgow - 11/7/2018

“There’s a refrigerator in the parking lot.”

I paused for a moment to digest this. There was a refrigerator in the parking lot of my medical office building. This was not exactly the news I wanted to be greeted with on a Monday morning.  In a state of disbelief, I wandered outside to the back of the building and sure enough, there stood a beat-up, old refrigerator, tilted and with the door partially ajar.  Someone had driven on to our lot, presumably in the dark of night and over the weekend, and dumped a refrigerator.

Managing my own building, I have begrudgingly become accustomed to dealing with things like a leaking roof and broken air conditioning.   But I have to say that having a refrigerator in my parking lot took things to a whole new level.  (And yes, the irony of someone dumping an empty refrigerator on a weight loss surgeon was not lost on me, even in the moment.)

Here’s what happened next:

I vented.   Someone had decided to make their problem my problem. Not wanting to take responsibility to clean up their own mess, someone had consciously decided to make me pay the cost and take the time to do it for them.   Really? Who does that?   I tried for a moment to think about who would do that.

My first thought was that whoever left their refrigerator was, to put it gently, not a nice person -- someone who didn’t care about other people and who was willing to ruin someone else’s day simply for their own convenience.   But as my frustration subsided, I realized there could be many explanations for why there was a refrigerator sitting outside of my building.

One of my favorite teachings is that everyone is fighting a great battle.   Sometimes what seems like an unkind act can be the product of something very different.   Maybe the person trying to dispose of the refrigerator was facing extremely hard times and to pay for its removal meant not being able to provide food for his or her family.   Maybe there were other factors at play – fear, panic, confusion, addiction.  I will never know.   Not that these other reasons justify or excuse this person’s behavior (dumping is illegal), but I know that people sometimes act in hurtful or harmful ways because they are suffering themselves.

My thoughts on what had happened then shifted to:   What the heck am I going to do about the refrigerator in my parking lot?   And then something amazing happened.   At my very wise wife Jordana’s urging, I called the Walpole Police Department to report the dumping.  To my very pleasant surprise, the kind and resourceful officer who answered the phone told me he would try to find someone from the town who could take care of it! Wow!  Out of a thoughtless act came one of kindness and caring. Sure enough, within a few days, that refrigerator disappeared from my parking lot just as stealthily as it had arrived.


Here’s my take away from this odd little event:  Sometimes thinking about others in a new way can help dissipate our own hurt or anger. You never know what another human being is going through, even when their behavior is painful.  And on the flip side, be kind to others. You never know when some small act of kindness will make someone else’s day better.  Thank you to the Walpole Police Department who just did that for me!

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