This post was written by Sarah Rees
MOVING TO A NEW COUNTRY ALWAYS HAS ITS COMPLICATIONS, BUT FOR A YOUNG, WHITE FEMALE – THAT RARE EXPAT BREED – THE CHALLENGES CAN OFTEN BE UNEXPECTED. SARAH REES IS ONE OF THESE LESSER-SPOTTED EXPATS, AND SHARES SOME OF HER TRIALS OF HER NEW LIFE.
It was late on a soggy Friday evening and as I staggered through the front door of my flat in Petaling Jaya with my arms weighed down with shopping and my head heavy after another long day at the office, I stepped straight into a puddle of water. Great.
Dumping the groceries in a dry corner and grumbling loudly, I started looking around for the cause of my mini flood before I discovered the culprit. It was the fridge. By squeezing my head into the tiny gap between the wall and the back of the fridge, I located a merry drip drip dripping into a puddle which was settling nicely under the wires at the back of the fridge and my gloom turned to panic. Wires and water! Danger!
Being electrocuted has been a serious fear of mine ever since I was 6 years old and accidentally watched a big kids’ programme in which a girl got thrown across the room when she fiddled with the TV socket with wet hands. Trying not to imagine my limp body being discovered by the neighbours, I screwed up my courage and hit the flip on the wall to turn the power off, before trying to find just why my fridge, which had behaved itself impeccably during the first 3 months in my flat, had suddenly decided to make life difficult.
A few minutes later and I had my answer: the freezer had defrosted itself into a miniscule little tray which was overflowing and needed to be emptied. The problem was complicated by the fact that the tray was at the back of the heavy fridge/freezer that was wedged into a gap in my kitchen and meant dragging the whole beast out to mop the leak.
Operation Fridge Moving was going remarkably well until the front foot fell off. The whole fridge began to tip towards me and amid visions of yoghurt, milk and soft mangos splattering all over me I threw myself down to support the base and soon found myself lying in a dirty puddle with my hands wedged under the fridge. If I moved, the fridge would fall, if I didn’t, the place would flood. Now what? “Daaaaaad!”
Ah if only. Having asserted my independence at the ripe old age of 23 by moving out of my family home and shipping myself and my life 6,000 miles away, this was the price – when I had messy fridge emergencies on a thundery Friday night, I had to deal with them without parental assistance.
So who to turn to? I lay there with my face horribly close to the dirty floor (why hadn’t I cleaned this?) and mentally flipped through my list of acquaintances. It seemed I had no end of ideal buddies for a meal or a coffee or a walk around the market, but in the Help with Domestic Emergencies category I had a big fat no one. Plus, even if I could think of someone who might be able to help shift this suicidal appliance, no way would they consent to sitting in Friday night traffic to come and help me lift my fridge.
Neighbours? In the UK I could just hoist open a window and our closer-than-friends neighbours would drop everything and rush over but living in a condo meant that neighbours kept to themselves and I only ever seemed to bump into them when I was dragging my rubbish bag to the refuse room in my pyjamas – never a good time to introduce yourself.
The water was starting to soak through my smart white trousers by this point and for the first time since moving to KL, the reality of my situation finally sunk in: I was properly alone. I was miles from my family and friends and with no one to turn to for help. And, most depressingly of all, if the fridge fell and crushed me, no one would ever find my yoghurt-smothered mangled remains.
So what did I do? I lay in the dirt puddle holding up the fridge and felt sorry for myself for a little while, and then I rolled up my sleeves (metaphorically of course too hot for sleeves), wedged the foot back on the fridge, pulled the thing out and solved the problem myself.
In twenty minutes I sat with my feet up feeling proud of myself. Moving alone to the other side of the world? Check. Getting a job? Check. Solving fridge dramas unaided? Check.
Source: The Expat November 2011 Issue
This article has been edited for ExpatGoMalaysia.com
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