To fully enjoy this post, you really should review the previous one, if you haven’t already…
I heard the Air-Conditioning Tech Guy begin descending the attic stair-ladder deathtrap.
I peeked out of the home office where I had been pretending to be busy doing whatever, in that weird stasis that exists when service personnel are banging around in your home. Do you stay nearby in case they have a question? Do you stay away in case they don’t like you breathing on them? It’s a wretched quandary, exacerbated by the fact that someone you don’t know is banging around in your house in the first place.
As his head came into view, I studied his face to determine what might be the next phase of our relationship. Did he just need something else from his company truck, filled as it was with mystical devices that meant nothing to people who didn’t do mystical things in attics? Was he about to announce that he had found an astonishing malfunction that would cost more than a liver transplant? Did he even remember me as the one who opened the door and pointed at the attic?
I couldn’t tell. His sweaty face betrayed nothing, other than an obvious desire for a beer and a new career. (I could help him with the first part, well-stocked afficionado that I am; he was on his own with second part. Good luck with that during the pandemic.)
Pause for editorial insertion: I haven’t yet given the guy a name because I don’t know what it was. I’m sure he announced it when he first arrived, but I was vibrating with joy that he had showed up on time and my giddiness caused a few mind-slips. Later, after the horrid journey had come to an end and he was gone, I scanned the invoice and spied nary a name, although I did spy the fact that he had never won a spelling bee. But I’m tired of typing out Air-Con Tech Guy, so we’ll go with… Hubert.
Hubert stepped off the final step and looked at me, with my inquisitive eyes peering out above my pineapple-motif face mask. (Long story on the origin of the mask, maybe we’ll get to that later.) “Your drip pan is full.”
This was an interesting pronouncement, especially since I spent the first half of this torrid tale describing, in unnecessary detail, that my personal drip pan was, indeed, full. How did he know? Did he hear me in the bathroom? (I tried to be quiet, swear, but you can’t always get what your orifices don’t want.) Time to clarify. “By drip pan, you mean…”
Hubert: “That it’s full. There’s a trigger on the pan, and when it gets full of condensation water, the unit shuts off.”
Wait a minute, that rang a bell. And a flashback to another experience. “But the last time we had the unit serviced, we had the same problem. And the tech connected the drip pan to a French Drain that he installed on the side of the house. Is the French Drain not working?”
Hubert paused to study my pineapple-masked face for signs of imbecility (and can you really blame him, considering my masking choice?), then he continued. “The main drip pan is connected. The emergency drip pan is not. They are similar, but not the same.”
I had another brief flashback, this one involving dialogue in “The Princess Bride”. Then I lobbed back. “So, what’s the purpose of the emergency drip pan?”
Hubert: “It’s there in case your main drip pan gets full.”
Me: “But the main drip pan is connected to the French Drain, right? So why isn’t the main pan draining?”
Humbert grimaced, not used to encountering clients who lobbed back. Most of them just want to know how many figures to write on the check so they can be done with it. “I will have to investigate that.”
Me: “That would be swell.” I beamed brightly, as if we had just bonded at summer camp.
Hubert did not appreciate the bonding, especially the insinuation that I knew what he did last summer. “But first I have to get something mystical out of my mystical truck. I cannot go into detail. Union rules and all.”
Me: “Terrific. I’ll continue to hover in the office and pretend that I’m doing something important.”
He went to his truck. I went to the office and moved things around on my desk, belching slightly, as my own drip pan had no intention of going softly into the dark night.
Hubert returned and traipsed up the rickety ladder stairs, dragging along wicked-looking implements that normally only appear in murder trials where the defendant is sent to prison forever. I moved things around a bit more. He banged on something in the attic for a while, presumably doing ghastly things. I refilled the stapler, one staple at a time. He tromped down the stairs and out the door multiple times, often staying out there for extended periods, presumably checking on things like the insubordinate French Drain or the outside compressor or the availability of sessions with his anger-management counselor.
At one point during all this, I tried to speak with Partner, who was still doing his “work from home” thing in the front room. He made hand motions that indicated he was on a very important conference call that required his full attention and my intrusion was not welcomed in an appreciative manner. To soften the blow, he gave me a thumbs-up signal that I was doing an admirable job, we’ll talk later. I scurried away, making a mental note of his abandonment, something I could bring up during divorce proceedings, should they occur.
Hours later, or perhaps minutes, the timeline gets a bit fuzzy when it’s so hot in the house that one’s love nuggets have descended to one’s knees, Hubert accosted me in the hallway. “It looks like your compressor has a leak.”
Again with the odd reference to my own internal turbulence. (I tried to be quiet, swear.) “Can you fix that?”
Hubert: “I can try. It might need to be replaced.” Then he ran out the door, and I’m fairly certain he was smiling.
I was not smiling. Replacing anything in the Circle of Life of an air-conditioning system is not cheap. There would be no more drunken revelries at Ojeda’s House of Tequila and Enchiladas in the near future. I went back to the home office and plopped in my desk chair, not even bothering to move things around as I contemplated all the wrong decisions I had made in my life.
Hubert continued to bang on things and run in and out the front door.
I composed a sonnet entitled “The Masque of the Pineapple Death” and then promptly placed said sonnet in a folder entitled “Crap That I Will Never Share with Anybody”. Then I dumped the contents out of the stapler and begin refilling it once again, single staple by single staple. At one point, I hummed a Natalie Merchant song concerning the deprivation of the soul.
Hours or minutes later, Hubert had some news to share. “The compressor is fine. I didn’t have the mystical device connected correctly, but then I read the manual and it looks good now.”
Hubert: “And I fixed the French Drain. The outflow pipe was not working as it should and I reconfigured it.”
Really? Can you do the same for me? Because I’m still burbling.
Hubert: “All in all, not bad. Your system is fine. Just a bit of a hiccup.” He then presented me the bill with a bit more flourish than I thought was necessary. I took a gander at the total and relaxed slightly, albeit not completely. It was still significant, but it was far less than Natalie Merchant and I had envisioned whilst we sang dirges around the sad Bonnywood Manor campfire.
I gave him my credit card, he did what he needed to do with his mystical transponder device, and then he was gone.
I went back into the home office, threw the stapler in the trash, and then stood under the air-conditioning vent, allowing the cool air to caress me and make me feel pretty, once again. Partner, apparently temporarily released from his endless conference calls, checked on me at one point. I smiled sweetly and proffered him a hand gesture that hopefully implied that we were good but there was still a remote chance that I might turn on him when he least expected such to happen. Then Natalie wandered back from her bathroom break and reminded me that nothing is ever as bad as we think it is, and we’re all in this together.
Fair enough. Why can’t some people figure that out?