It was one of those weekends. Mom flew in to spend several days with us, including some serious grandmother-granddaughter bonding time with our nearly-nine-year-old.
The last time my mother came to stay with us was at Thanksgiving, which happened to coincide perfectly with our furnace breaking down. It was cold over that holiday weekend, and since my brother, sister-in-law, and two young nephews were staying with us, too, we really wanted the heat back on. So we called The Guy.
I remember his response as if I were paraphrasing it today. He said, “Hey, pal, we’re celebrating Thanksgiving over here, too, and you’d have a better chance of forcing Ted Nugent to go vegetarian than you do of getting me in my truck to deal with your problem!” Figuring we couldn’t afford the quadruple golden time he’d charge us if we pressed the matter, we instead hauled out every blanket and sweater in the house and spent the weekend bundled up.
That was six months ago. This weekend, Mom was back — and this time the air conditioning decided to fail us.
Naturally, the A/C didn’t break down until late Friday afternoon, and with temperatures in the upper 80s, and thunderstorms raising the humidity level to approximately 650%, we were soon sitting in our house stewing in a broth of our own concoction.
So we called The Guy. It was past closing time, but he agreed to come over and take a look.
It’s at this point that I should mention that the unit he was coming over to look at was brand new. We had just had it installed — at a cost of $3,000 — less than a month ago, because the previous unit was over 20 years old and “could go any day.” At the time, I didn’t realize that “could go any day” is the industry-wide standard diagnosis for any unit that has been hooked up for more than eight seconds. Thus, the problem with the new one which, entirely on its own and without consulting any other appliances, decided that the hottest day thus far this year was the perfect time to go.
The Guy told us the compressor had shorted out (“short” is a technical term related to the life span of mechanical pieces in my HVAC system), and we’d need a new one. Naturally, he didn’t have a new one, and since it was now Friday evening, we’d have to wait until Monday at the earliest. This wasn’t good. We were sweating more than a casino host who just learned the Bill Bennett would never gamble again.
By now, my boiling point was roughly at the same level as the stifling ambient room temperature in the house, so in my frustration I could no longer form complete sentences. I was reduced to blurting out mini-phrases along the lines of “unacceptable,” “three thousand dollars,” and “damn hot fix air cool make.”
My wife stepped in to speak in actual English with The Guy, who explained that, while he’d like to alleviate the suffering, there was just nothing he could do. My suggestion of going and getting our old unit back and re-installing it was waved off as the ranting of a lunatic. He said that, when the new compressor was available, they’d replace it at no charge.
He left, and we sat down to dinner, which would now not involve any cooking, since no one wanted to feel any heat from the stove or oven. Thankfully, my salad recipe calls for very little heat, and with some microwaved leftovers, we threw together a meal.
At the same time, we also forged a plan for the weekend. My only real contribution was, “Hotel cool get room cool sleep cool.” But my wife and mother started remembering how, not that long ago, in the days before central air, we used to deal with this problem every summer by taking advantage of cooler public places. Any restaurant with a good ventilation system would do. Men would drop their traditional shopping reluctance, just to be in an air conditioned store for an hour or so. You’d go to the local movie theater not because of the title on the marquee, but because of the sign hanging below, which read, “Air Conditioned For Your Comfort.” Complete with ice dripping off the lettering.
Fortunately, some massive thunderstorms rolled through the next day, and that broke the heat spell, knocking the temperature down about 20 degrees and making it comfortable again. So we got to enjoy the rest of the weekend.
On Monday, we heard from The Guy that he had to special order The Part, and it would be another day or two. The weather has remained ultra-comfortable, so that’s not a problem. But I told him to order some extras, just in case.
After all, Mom will be back in a few months, and we’ll probably need them. You see, I think Mom’s a carrier. And I’m not just saying that to get in a cheap air conditioning brand name pun.