We Americans are so spoiled, in these modern times. Isn’t it great! While there are other people in the world, starving, stuck in war torn countries, and living in bug infested huts, I have the audacity to get my panties in a wad, when the wi-fi glitches up for a few minutes. God forbid if the internet is out, for a whole day. Then my other personality, Princess Prima Donna, comes out. If we don’t have any hot water available at the moment when I WANT to take a shower, I just take a baby wipe bath. Cold showers are for the house plants, not my supple delicate skin. Well, this spoiled princess was forced to rough it for over a month, when our air conditioner upstairs quit working. This happened in the middle of May, and we live in Florida. May, in hot and humid Florida, is when the temperature gets in the 90’s. The worst time to lose such an important creature comfort. Even worse, we could not find someone who would be willing to fix the air conditioner. Or maybe we could’ve.
Covid didn’t shut down air conditioning repair businesses. My parents are big on supporting small businesses over corporate ones, which is great—except for when you come across one of those small businesses that will never be anything more than small. My parents are such good people. They were so nice and patient with these unprofessional shlups, which only prolonged our suffering.
First, dad got in touch with two guys—a father and son—who fixed our upstairs air conditioner, the last time. Things worked out with them, and I was impressed with their work ethics. When they made a mistake, and installed a wrong part, they owned up to it. So they came back to fix the mistake, and it was free of charge. The only problem was, the father felt very uncomfortable working at our house, because he didn’t speak english, and nobody in our house speaks Spanish. His son knew english, and had to be there to interpret for him. I guess having to depend on his son made him feel even more uncomfortable, because it was a downer on his pride, or something.
dad texted the son. He even opened a hole in the kitchen ceiling downstairs for the guys, so they could climb into the duct work to fix things. Then three weeks go by…
During the first couple of weeks, the upstairs part of the house became a giant slow cooker, which was taking a tole on my concentration. I struggled with my book revisions, word by tedious word. As I sweated bullets, and fought the body’s defensive urge to want to conserve energy, and be a lazy blob. Both my ceiling fan and oscillating fan were kept on full-blast. The oscillating fan was set to not move, and I had it pointed directly at my work desk. Still, it was soooooooo hot.
The window and door were kept open too, for better air circulation. That was another challenge on my concentration. I hate doing anything with the door left open, because people could see me, and I can’t see them when they see me. It’s a paranoia thing that came about, since my vision crapped out. I really don’t have anything to hide from those I share the house with. It’s not like I’m working on top secret documents for the mob, but there’s the fear of things like, what if someone peaks in, and catches me in the act of flicking a booger. Or what if they see me so lost in thought, I don’t realize that I’m fiddling with my nipples? There was also the constant distraction of mom, who walked across the upstairs hallway, at least several times an hour. Carrying the squeaky wicker laundry basket back and forth, and slamming the hall closet door.
Having to keep the window open was enough to put me on the verge of an artistic-person temper tantrum, but I couldn’t tell the crows and blue jays, “Hey! Shut the hell up! You can’t sing! Just let it go!” I couldn’t yell out the window to the neighbors, “Yo! Shut the hell up! The whole street doesn’t give a rat’s ass about your sprained rotator cuff! And will someone turn that damn radio off! Not everyone is in the mood to rock out to 15-minute commercial breaks about Dunk’n Doughnuts and 1-800 411-PAIN! And how many times a day do your freaking yards need to be mowed and weed whacked, people, sheesh!” Unfortunately, there was no better choice, but to either soldier on through the annoying distractions, or close my door and noise-canceling window, and die of heat stroke.
Yes, I know, the simple solution to this was, to just work in the air conditioned downstairs. But there was no way to concentrate there either. Not with the way my brain operates. Mom was down there a lot, going from room to room, going outside and inside. Back and forth, in and out, doing loads of laundry, doing yard work, washing the clanking dishes, shuffling through crinkly papers and magazines, and there’s always some noisy objects to re-organize. All the while, she likes to keep the TV on, and graze on noisy snacks. The ringer to the parents’ house phone is on full-blast, and so is the phone’s speech impaired, caller ID announcer.
Then when dad comes home from work, the TV volume goes up, and the two of them get into loud conversations about politics. The noise of snack grazing goes up in volume too, as dad likes to crunch on raw vegetables. When he answers his work phone, he can’t carry on a conversation with coworkers without pacing all around the house, and pretty much bellowing to the neighborhood, about Duke Energy’s latest problems with fixing transformers.
There’s never that much activity upstairs. So trying to concentrate in my room was the less aggravating choice.
The first couple of weeks of barely getting much writing done, was starting to get me depressed. As much as I love working on my books, working in broken up spurts, and needing to lay down and cool off in between, made the writing process as tediously drawn out as trying to hike across the country, with narcolepsy.
As week two smoldered into week three, the temperature gradually rose. During the day, I had to put the full blast oscillating fan right next to my work desk, and keep a bottle of water with me, 24/7.
The nights were hot too, but maybe ten or more degrees lower. With the window open, and the two fans on high, it was actually kind of Pleasant. All I had to do to stay cool and dry, was to sleep in light pajamas, and take the comforter off the bed. The thought came to mind, of maybe going nocturnal for a time, and do my writing at night. Then again, there was no chance in hell I would be able to sleep during the day, through the sweltering heat, and all the lawn mowing, and mom’s closet door slamming.
The parents and I noticed that we slept better, with fresh air coming into our rooms, and hearing all the sounds of nature. The crickets and frogs were like Mother Earth’s lullaby, tapping into a primitive part of our evolved human brains, and reconnecting us with our ancient ancestors who were one with the rest of the world’s untamed flora and fawna. Then along came a limpkin, and the tranquility of nature was screwed.
A limpkin is a large, plain and average looking brown bird with a very long beak, and a squawk that would even get on crows’ and blue jays’ nerves. It’s a shrill, squeaky, squawk that sounds like a giant seagull being brutally tortured. Or like the piercing screams of a giant toddler having a temper tantrum.
At that time, because of the covid forcing people to not go out as much, more wild creatures felt safe to roam beyond their usual habitats, and settle into new territories. During the past six years that the parents and I lived in St. Cloud, we’d never had limpkins living in our area. Gina, who lived in Kissimmee for ten years, had suddenly started to hear limpkins’ banshee cries in the wee hours of the night too. They had their shrieking fits at all unpredictable hours of the day or night, which means that they aren’t totally nocturnal. We assumed that their obnoxious behavior was probably because it was their mating season.
Sometimes our neighborhood limpkin shrieked for love, at the top of its lungs, at a decent hour of the morning, like 7:00 or 8:00-ish. Other times, it started at around 4:00 A M, or even 2:00 A M. And once it got going, it took a long time to shut up. I was surprised that a neighbor or two didn’t hunt that bird down, and shoot it. I sure as hell wanted to.
Once again, the simple solution should’ve been to just go downstairs to sleep. There’s a comfortable couch in the fireplace room I could’ve crashed on, but I was afraid of disturbing Christa’s sleep. She used to stay in the upstairs guest room, when she visited us, which is next door to my room. She’s a light sleeper, and often complained that my snoring kept her awake. Once the downstairs guest room was added to the house, she never stayed upstairs again, unless our grandma was staying over too. If I started snoring in the fireplace room, she would’ve heard it, and it would’ve kept her awake. She’s just that light of a sleeper.
After three weeks of not being able to concentrate on my work during the day, and getting my sleep disrupted at night, I was really starting to hate those air conditioner guys.
By the end of the third week, dad finally texted the air conditioner repair guy’s son again, and let him know that he had been waiting to hear back from him, for weeks. The son’s excuse was, “Sorry, we were busy.”
I thought this was a lame excuse. Unless there really was another crisis going on, where people’s air conditioners were breaking down, all over Florida, one after the other, and repairers couldn’t keep up with the demand. The son was even too busy to take a few seconds out of his day to return dad’s text? Seriously?
Looking back on it now, I know I should’ve been more meddling in this situation. I should’ve snuck around the house to grope for dad’s phone, when everybody else was either asleep, or at Gina’s. He has an I-phone too. If I made the effort to find it, I would’ve told his Siri to turn VoiceOver on. So I could unlock his phone, and read through his text messages. I believe he didn’t have his screen set up to need a pass code to unlock it. I didn’t know this son’s name, but I would’ve figured out who he is, by the context of his and dad’s exchange of texts. Then I would’ve either texted him, pretending to be dad. Or I would’ve memorized this guy’s name or number, and text him myself. I wouldn’t have raised hell, just yet. Posing as dad, I would’ve asked this son questions such as—When do you think you will be available? Will you be available or not? Please get back to me. Thank you. If I were texting him from my phone, I would’ve let him know that I was dad’s daughter, and tell him that I got his number off the internet. My texts would’ve been more pleading and pushy about why we need our air fixed, and I would’ve thrown in some mentioning of my disabilities for a flair of manipulation.
Dad was just too darn passive. He didn’t want to get on the son’s case about forgetting to return his texts, because he was busy. Dad worked for a power company, for over 40 years. So he has a lot of empathy for those who work in utility service jobs, and have to deal with companies’ and customers’ demands and expectations.
As for me, empathy shmempathy.
Come to find out, those guys were not too busy. Gina and Carlos’s air conditioner broke, shortly after ours did, and they called on the same two guys. The guys were communicative with Carlos, and fixed their air, right away. Most likely because Carlos speaks Spanish. So they just didn’t want to work at our house, because the father felt too uncomfortable with the language barrier. I’m no business woman, but if I were them, I would’ve first made up a plausible but polite and tactful, bullshit excuse about why my service couldn’t be available, for the time being. Then I would’ve given dad a list of other repair services that might be more helpful. Instead, they just brushed dad off, and left us hanging. After the son returned dad’s text, with his “busy” excuse, dad never heard from him again. Bad business.
By week four, dad got ahold of a different repair service, recommended by our friend, Valery. When the guy first came to the house, I was highly impressed. He was a young guy named Juan, who did air conditioning repair jobs in multiple counties. He drove all the way to St. Cloud, from Tampa, to fix our air conditioner, at 9:30 on a Friday night. He was an angel in human form, selflessly working extra hours, for the sake of helping others…
Or so I thought…
I don’t know shit about the mechanics of air conditioners. So forgive me for being awfully vague about what was wrong with ours. Juan didn’t have the part he needed to fix it, but he did something to temporarily recharge the thing. He said that it should keep our air working over the weekend until he could come back with the part, on Monday.
The air conditioner worked for a mere few hours. Juan only recharged it part-way. When dad told him about it, Juan claimed that he didn’t know that not fully charging it would make it quit so soon.
He promised that he’d be at the house, Monday morning. So dad took that Monday off. Morning turned to afternoon, and Juan hadn’t showed up, or even called or texted dad to let him know that he would be running late. Dad was the one who had to text him, and ask him what was going on. Juan said that he had two other jobs to take care of, before coming to our house. Around 12:30-ish, he called dad to let him know that he was just leaving Tampa, and was on his way. Tampa is about an hour to an hour-and-a-half drive away, depending on traffic. So we figured he’d show up sometime around 2:00. How about, it was almost 5:00 when the ass pimple finally arrived, and with no explanation for what took him so long. So dad took the day off of work for nothing. Bad enough that the guy was seven hours late, he didn’t even have the damn part to fix the air conditioner yet! The best he could do was give it another half-assed recharging, and he promised to come back tomorrow afternoon.
Tuesday came, and the incompetent bastard stood us up. He didn’t show up, and he didn’t call or text dad to explain why he couldn’t show up. No apologies. No offering service discounts to make up for his mistake. Nothing. He just seemed to not give a shit.
By now, it had been almost five weeks with no air conditioning in half the house, and living with a creepy huge hole in the kitchen ceiling. Keeping the ceiling open this long welcomed in an invasion of flies. Dad insisted on taking care of the air conditioner issue, but he was still being too nice and too patient, and a total push-over with these repair service duds. And he didn’t want to deal with me, mom, and Christa complaining about it. That only made him get snippy with us. The air conditioner issue was causing tension between him and mom. Throughout that month, they were bickering more and more often. Dad would get irritable with mom, and mom would get very critical and knit picky. They bickered about stupid Juan, that Tuesday night. Mom was so fed up with the situation that she went upstairs in their room to eat dinner.
I decided enough was enough. If dad insisted on patiently waiting around for whenever Juan felt like doing his job, I wasn’t going to stick around. It had been more than a month, and I was dead sick of living this way. I texted Gina, and told her about what was going on, and asked her if I could stay over at her house for a while until things get resolved. Thankfully, she was cool with this. So I packed up my necessities and a bunch of clothes, and had dad drive me there. When I explained to him why I wanted to leave, he was not at all happy with my attitude.
The way I felt about it was, if he insisted on handling the situation, I wished he would be more assertive about it. Pester Juan. Forget Juan, and move on to the next service. If he paid for the silly prank of a repair service that Juan gave us, then demand a refund. And if he can’t get a refund, raise hell about it. Give Juan’s service negative reviews. I wanted him to stick up for himself as a customer, and stop letting these bogus repair services take him for a chump.
Dad was just so patient and empathetic and understanding towards Juan. He’s not one to want to nag, and be a pain in the ass. He’s considerate towards others, and gives them the benefit of a doubt. He doesn’t want to get ugly and vengeful towards people. I don’t like being that way either, but unfortunately, sometimes you have to be a bossy, demanding, career threatening pain in the ass to get things moving. The way dad felt about it was, he was handling the situation the best he could, and if I didn’t like it, that wasn’t his problem.
Then he left in a huff. Jaden, who was getting ready for bed, overheard some of me and dad’s disagreement. So me and Gina had to carefully explain to the seven-year-old, why grandpa and aunt Tia were arguing, and why I was coming over to stay with them, at such an unusual hour. I brought over my set of Harry Potter books for him to borrow, which helped him completely forget about the family squabble. Gina put my luggage in her nice and cozy guest room. The guest bathroom, which I had all to myself, was just a few strides away, down the hall. I was in a part of her echoey new house, where I could move around during the night, and not have to worry about the noise waking up Jaden. I was so grateful that Gina let me stay there, figuring that living with the Jaramillos might end up being my new home…