Monday, August 1

The unbearable hotness of being.

Let me explain what it's like to lose your air conditioning in Alabama in July.

If you're lucky -- sorry, let me put some air quotes around that -- if you're "lucky," it goes out while you're there in the apartment, so you hear the thing grind to a halt and make the call to the maintenance people right away. Or you don't notice it right away, and the situation only makes itself apparent to you when you realize a couple hours later that the place has gotten uncomfortably stuffy. Kind of like the frog in the pot of water on the stove: You're hot, but at least you don't know that you're hot.

If you're somewhat less lucky, it conks out while you're asleep and you wake up the next morning with your sheets drenched in sweat, and there's this split-second of abject terror as you make the transition from dreamland to consciousness because you think someone's trying to smother you with a pillow, only it's actually just the air around you which is at 150-percent humidity and superheated to 100-plus degrees.

And if you're really unlucky, you come home semi-drunk and exhausted from a party one night and all you want to do is drink a tall cold glass of water to stave off the hangover and go to sleep, and when you walk in the door it's like someone throwing a bucket of warm bathwater in your face, and so much for fighting the hangover because it's going. To be. A long night.

You know how it feels when you walk into a bathroom where someone's just taken a hot shower? Well, imagine your whole house being like that. And the air isn't moving at all. The air inside your living space is like the standing water you find in old truck tires that have collected weeks worth of rainwater and become laden with mosquito eggs, only in gas form. You open some windows to try to get some air flowing through your house, but all that does is let some 95-degree air in to swirl the 105-degree air around. It's like your friend saying "Hey, let's do some tequila shots!" and then giving you a shot of warm Bacardi as the chaser.

Instead of going back into the depths of your bedroom to go to sleep, you crash on the couch in the room where there seems to be the greatest breeze flowing through, but within minutes your coach feels like a charcoal briquet. You can't flip any of the cushions or pillows over looking for the cool spot because there is no cool spot. And every time you shift or roll over you're reminded of how sweaty you are, almost as if you've been hosed down. You make a mental note to burn the couch before you leave the next morning.

When you do wake up, the place has cooled down maybe four or five degrees during the night but you can feel it starting back up again. Everything that used to feel cold feels hot. You turn on the cold water full blast for your shower but it doesn't feel as cold as you were expecting. After a minute or two, the milk in your cereal tastes like somebody heated it up for a baby's bottle or something. You don't bother to put your bagel in the toaster because you know all you have to do is leave it out on the counter for 15 minutes or so and it'll be ready to go.

You call the apartment company's maintenance people and leave a message with them before you go to work, trying to sound as pitiful as possible. Maybe you make up a non-existent kid or two and mention that this morning they started hallucinating that the sun on the Raisin Bran box was talking to them. You leave for work, sweat already running down your body and it's only 8 a.m., praying that the maintenance folks will have heard your cry in the wilderness.

You come home on your lunch break and see the air-conditioning unit in pieces all over the floor. Somebody's been here. Progress is being made. For the first time, there is hope.

You come home again at the end of the day, needing a machete to hack through air as thick as warm Jell-O that punches you in the face the minute you walk through the door, and make your way to the reassembled A/C unit. You flip the switch. Nothing happens. Between the stagnant air and the silence from the A/C unit, it's as quiet as deep space. And you know that, just as if you were in deep space, nobody will hear you scream.

You start calling hotels.

8 comments:

Josh said...

I'm surprised, if only because I didn't know they had air conditioning yet in Alabama.

jen said...

Try living in a state where, despite having early June - late September with temperatures in the upper 80s-low 100s, a/c is not standard. I'm not kidding. We don't have the humidity y'all do (average is about 50-60%), but in-home a/c is a luxury most don't have, non-mall stores it's a 50/50 chance, and even the public places that DO have it (libraries, malls, etc.) only run it so the temperature is about 75-80 inside instead of the 85-100 it would otherwise be.

Now try being pregnant & due in November in aforementioned state.

April said...

That majorly sucks. My family had a similar problem back in the winter-just a reverse scenario. It was freezing cold and our heater was broken. It felt like it had snowed in the house. I feel your pain-in a reverse kind of way.

Bill from jc said...

I know how you feel Doug,,, everyone I know says I am really hot too,,, it's a burden to be sure.

Vestal Vespa said...

Bleh. I love the midwest, but during the summer I am very happy I no longer live in Iowa. The air is like potato soup in the summer there, and you can't breath without breaking a sweat. The concept of "cooking" becomes "salad" just so you don't have to expend any kind of heat energy to eat.

Here in CO we had a week of 100+ temps, but we get about .6% humidity most days so it's just kinda like living in a toaster oven. Which is marginally better than soup.

DIVA said...

I live in NYC and believe it or not I already have my money saved up to check in a hotel in case, a. my air conditioner breaks down or b. NYC experiences another blackout. No A/C is no joke. My mom's family is from South Carolina and none of the older folks believe in A/C. needless to say I never visit.

Josh said...

I'z do believe the last two posts are the work of spambots.

Bill from jc said...

I dare say we have found something we agree on Josh.

Let's try to not let that happen too much.