Well, there is one good thing about working during the summer — air conditioning.  Specifically, free functional air conditioning that makes the office icily cool, and I don’t (directly) pay for it.  If I worked from home, or had off during the summer, I’d have to either spend copious amounts of time in the library and Starbucks and Ikea, or else pay for the air conditioner to get fixed/replaced.

Our home came with 4 units — 2 window units in the larger bedrooms, and 2 wall units.  I shall explain this “wall unit” phenomenon.  Somewhere along the line, someone decided that the eye sore of having a box sticking out the window that you were supposed to remove every winter was worse than having a box jutting out from a rectangular hole carved into the house.  At least this one you can’t remove in the winter.  I think we’re supposed to cover the wall units with “blankies” in the winter to keep the air from moving back and forth and trying to heat the outdoors in January.  So we have two wall units — one in the kitchen, useful for counteracting the fiery inferno that emanates from our oven whenever we use it.  Seriously, I don’t think they knew how to insulate ovens in 1980.  You can’t touch the oven door when it’s on.  And the gas range, as great as it is for cooking, generates a fair bit of radiant heat because — hello! — it is afterall a fire, in the house.  The other wall unit sticks out from a point in the dining room near enough to the large doorway to the living room that it’s supposed to cool both rooms.  It is a large beast, and I’m sure in its day, the BTUs were quite sufficient. 

Today, however, the Emerson Quiet Kool is neither quiet (think jet engine mixed with weed whacker) nor cool.  That’s right; it no longer blows air that is any cooler than the air already in the house.  We already have a fan.  So in the largest part of the house, where we spend a good deal of time, we have no cooling “system”.  The kitchen unit can’t begin to touch those areas because it’s an L-shape, and the A/C is at the far end of the L.  My mother, who was visiting last weekend, brought the defective unit to our attention quite, um, frequently.  Subsequent phone conversations have focused on What To Do About The Air Conditioner.  We’ll get it fixed, I insist.  I know it’s broken.  I don’t need any evidence or further nagging.  I get it.  We were all hot last weekend during the heat wave.  We’ll get it fixed.

Except that Mr. Apron called some HVAC guys, and they said that they do not (nor will anyone else) come out to a house to fix window units, wall units, or any individual units.  This is indeed a wasteful society.  Our A/C is disposable?  We sure as hell can’t yank it our of the wall to take it into “the shop”, if such a thing even existed.  We’d be left with a gaping hole 20′” x 25″ in our house, open to all sorts of feral cats, killer moths, and local hoodlums using preschoolers to break into houses through their ventilation systems and dog doors.  So essentially, it is disposable.  I guess we buy a new one, pray it fits, then get some thugs to install it (something that size must weight 100lb), and hope it lasts another 25 years.  Until we have to find a new thug to rip that one out and start all over again.

It angers me greatly that all sorts of things are now considered disposable, or not worth fixing.  Granted, anything new will be much more energy efficient, but what if we could pay 20% of a new one, and get it fixed?  What if it were as simple as a freon recharge?  I used to do that for my first car when it stopped blowing cold air.  I didn’t junk it the first time it stopped working.  Seems like cars are the only thing we do fix.  Unless you’re thinking of Cash for Clunkers, in which case we’re destroying not only serviceable cars, but already runningcars that home-schooling Mennonite and Chassidic families could use for their litters of children.  We throw away shoes when the heels are worn; we pitch shirts when they lose a button or pants when a pocket tears.  We pitch toasters, VCRs, DVD players, ipods, mixers, lamps, and vibrators when they stop working.  We return dogs to shelters when they grow up too big, or require too much attention.  Cell phones have planned obsolescence built right in to the 2 year agreement.  All the analog TVs that are now clogging landfills and thrift shops as a result of the FCC’s tryst with the cable companies have, yet again, designed a way for the working things to become tomorrow’s waste.   I saw in the drug store “disposable” sippy cups.  What makes them single-use?  It’s not that they’re a Dixie plate that soaks through with the usual load of spaghetti and meatballs.  It’s that they’re labeled as such, sanctioning their becoming trash when they’re as easily washed and reused as the next cup. 

I want to be able to fix our wall unit.  I want it to be cool in our house.  But when the HVAC assholes charge $79.99 just to have a look-see, it’s hardly worth anyone’s time or money, unfortunately.  Maybe what we need is to start a revolution in the trade school sector.  Just as some folks donate junk cars to auto-repair school, maybe we could start donating our old A/C units to HVAC schools, our old shoes to cobbler apprenticers, our old appliances to Aspergian children desperate to disassemble mechanical bits.  At least it would keep things out of the land fills.  I can’t tell if it’s actually a good idea; maybe my brain is just fried from the heat.