At times in my life when a third crisis would arrive I’d be rueful about it, thinking to myself that trouble comes in threes. But over the last two weeks crises have come in a swarm. It began one night when I went down in the basement and saw water seeping out into several rooms and clearly coming from the room in which the central air conditioner is located. It’s a huge metal cube, floor to ceiling, in its own room. There’s an electric pump at the base which pumps condensate into the drainage system and a ‘drip pan’ underneath. The pump had stopped working and the ‘drip pan’ was overflowing. So there I was late at night, air conditioning switched off, bucket and mop and glass to manually empty the drip pan. It’s an unfinished smooth concrete floor so it wasn’t a disaster, just hours of cleaning up, and worry through the night. The next morning I called my trusted local air conditioning maintenance man and his wife told me he is now retired and would come look at it but wouldn’t be here for several days. She told me they are recommending ‘Jeff’ in Mineral Bluff, about 25 miles from here, and gave me his phone number. I was pleasantly surprised that when I called I talked with a New Zealand woman, clear beautiful English speech, who told me Jeff would be here in three hours. Remarkably he was here on time. He solved the problem quickly, disconnecting a plastic pipe, sucking out a blockage with a shop vac, showing me how to do it myself if it ever happened again. The pump started up, I could put the air conditioning on, the service call was $80 which I thought was very reasonable for solving the problem and education on how to fix it myself if it ever happened again.
The next day I got up to find the water was cut off. I called the water company and found out the water line had been broken by a road crew. I drove down the road to take a look and was stunned to see major road construction at the end of my one way road. I talked to the men there and they told me the two lane highway was going to be widened to the four lane highway three miles away at the North Carolina border. It will be going on for the next eighteen months. Three more times that week the water was cut off for up to twelve hours. The elderly superintendent of the water company was infuriated about it. He had been getting ready to retire and had been told he could not while this ii going on. It got to the point where one night there was a thunderstorm and a transformer was hit by lightning. So that night I sat with only candlelight for over four hours, no electricity, no water.
The next crisis came when I switched on the air conditioning one afternoon and there was a loud grinding clattering noise from the basement. It was 90 F outside. I called Jeff’s company and was told that they would have someone here the next morning. So I sat with a floor fan and Bonny the dog looking at me, panting, as though to say “do something… it’s hot… I’ve got a fur coat on you know”. We survived the night and ‘Scotty’ arrived the next morning. It was a serious problem. The 25 year old distribution fan had warped and broken down. Scotty wrestled with that part of the unit and managed to get it out, a great heavy bulk of a thing, showed me the damage and said he’d take it to the shop to see if they could order a replacement. The next five days were horrendous, me sitting in front of the floor fan wearing only my running shorts, comforting Bonny. “It will all be over soon Bonny,” though as the days went by I was stressed by not just the heat but by worry about what repair was going to cost. Finally Jeff called me and said he was on his way. When he arrived he explained that they had difficulty getting a replacement unit because my Trane system was so old so he’d gone back into his storage area and found a smaller fan, called a ‘squirrel drive’ for some reason, and had managed to fit it into the unit Scotty had taken with him. A half hour later it was installed, and running, and cool air was coming through the vents. I was amazed and relieved at his response when I asked him for the bill. He said to me “It’s taken me so long to fix this for you just give me the $80 service call”. God bless Jeff. An honest man. A good man.
So now I’m sitting in air conditioned comfort, time to catch up with emails and tweets, back to continue writing, thinking tomorrow I’ll go mow the overgrown lawns. Surely August will be better than July.
Trouble Came in a Swarm