Summer temperatures had risen to the high nineties. This had become more noticeable due to the fact that our air conditioner wasn't working. The repairman was about to make his fifth visit to our house in the past month. Sharron and I were so used to sweating all the time that we even considered taking up exercise.
"We might as well," Sharron said. "You wanna?"
"Nah," I answered.
When the repairman arrived, the fact that the A/C wasn't working seemed to baffle him. He paced from the furnace closet to the back patio in desperate search of something he could tell us that would make us stop calling his company.
He caught us off guard by giving us the bad news in a professional tone. We had never seen him act that way before. It was unnerving.
The problem, he told us, was that the line set (the piping) between the air conditioning unit and the evaporator coil was the wrong size. He theorized that the air conditioning unit had been replaced by one of the past owners of the house and that while the unit's incompatibility with the line set hadn't caused a problem in the past, it was a problem for the sensor that came with the new coil. Confused and uncomprehending, I countered by trying to explain the intricacies of existential philosophy. He didn't seem interested.
What I did understand was this: The repairs for the problem involved having someone rip open our kitchen ceiling, tear out some of the stucco on the exterior of our house, and replace the pipes that ran between these two spots. They couldn't give us an estimate until they talked to our homeowners insurance, but it obviously wasn't going to be cheap.
Soon after the repairman left, we called the insurance and asked if they could send someone out to give us a second opinion.
"We don't do that," they said. This, I knew to be a lie, because they had done it for us in the past. I didn't think quickly enough to tell them that their pants were on fire.
It also didn't look like we had much choice in the matter. After waiting for a couple days for the repair company to call us as they promised, I was finally able to pick up the phone and call them. My first few attempts were foiled because the phone was so drenched with sweat that it kept falling out of my hands. When I connected, the company's voice message told me that they were on vacation. I guess that's what all the good A/C repair companies do during the hottest weeks of the summer.
I called again a week later, and they said they'd call us back with the estimate. It was exactly two weeks after they had told us they would give us an estimate that they called back and said they couldn't give us an estimate. The homeowners insurance was equally unhelpful. The statement filed by the repair company stated that the problem was caused by the previous owners of our house who had installed an A/C unit that was incompatible with the existing piping as well as with the new evaporative coil.
Sharron and I couldn't help but feel that there was something incredibly wrong with this, not only ethically, but factually. We just couldn't figure out what it was, although part of it stemmed from the fact that our air conditioning worked before we called the repair company, but no longer worked after they had "fixed it." Looking for answers, we went around to our neighbor's houses and saw what kind of air conditioning units they had. What we learned from this was that our neighbors need to get maids. We also learned that the air conditioning unit on our house was the original. The repairman's assessment of our problem was dead wrong!
Every man dreams of being able to rescue their true love from distress: to catch them as they fall from a burning building, to bring them back to life after nearly drowning. This was my chance. I called the homeowners insurance with this new information. In a sudden "Mr. Hyde to Dr. Jekyll" change of attitude, they decided to send someone out to give a second opinion.
"My hero!" Sharron swooned when I gave her the good news.
I beamed with pride and hoped that the new air conditioner repairman wasn't packing any kryptonite.
In the same way that I had become Sharron's hero, the new repairman became mine. He showed up, figured out that all that needed to be done was move the cooling sensor, got the approval from the insurance, and did the repairs on the spot for free. Within a half hour, the A/C was working properly and blowing winds of cooling joy into our previously desert-like home.
"Will you marry me?" I asked John the repairman.
"You're not my type," he said. He pointed at my wedding ring. "Besides, you're taken."
Embarrassed at my enthusiasm, I apologized. "You're right," I said. "I'm sorry. But here, take this fruit basket as a reward."
He declined yet again.
"Okay, I said, "but, really, thank you. Thank you. Thank you!"
John seemed a little bit uncomfortable. "Uh, I have to go now..."
"No, you can stay! Have dinner with us."
"Sorry sir, I really have to go. I have customers waiting."
"Alright then. Be that way," I pouted. As he shut the door behind him, I made myself a note to invite him to my next birthday party.
So that, my friends, is how, over the space of a month and a half, and many toils and troubles, we were able to get our air conditioner repaired. Just in time for fall.