This week it’s been hotter than Satan spreading asphalt. Early this spring I heard people whining about the rain so I hope they’re happy now. When the rain did move off to the east in April, it left a sweltering sun and humidity as thick as honey.
Heat never seemed to bother me when I was a kid. I don’t remember anyone having air conditioners in those days. Thinking back, air conditioners would have been a waste in those old camp houses because there were cracks in places wide enough to toss a puppy through. The only insulation people used was tarpaper siding and old newspapers stuffed into the cracks to keep the winter wind out.
We had an old belt-driven window fan with steel blades that we ran in the evenings. The fan was installed in an open window. The whirring blades sucked cool evening air through our open bedroom windows making summer sleep possible.
When we built our new Jim Walter house in 1966, daddy bought a new window unit from Sears and the house seemed like a refrigerator compared to the old place.
When Jilda and I married, we spent the first 10 years in a trailer without air conditioning. We spent a lot of time outside in the shade swatting mosquitos that seemed as big as pigeons. It’s always been hot here in the south, but we survived. Thankfully we can afford to keep the air conditioning humming in our house these days.
I noticed an issue with my truck this week that I feared would get into my back pocket. When the bank thermometer blinked 106 it seemed to take the air conditioner in my truck longer to cool the cab than it took last summer. I ran down to see my buddies at Sayre Auto Parts to have them check the coolant.
Jerry, who is one of the owners, raised the hood and checked the metal pipes connected to the unit. He then stepped back and bent over to look underneath. Water puddled on the shop floor from the engine’s innards. I thought there was a leak, but he said it was condensation, which is a sign the unit was functional. “I’d be willing to bet the coolant is not low,” he said.
He turned to me as he started back across the street to his office and said, “I actually know what’s causing the problem.” I listened as he pointed out that it was 103 degrees outside, I was driving a black truck, and I was a year older.”
A few moments later, the mechanic appeared, and hooked hoses with gauges to the air conditioner. He watched intently for a few minutes and tapped the dial with is finger for good measure. “It was full of coolant.”
I walked across the street to settle up the bill. I sheepishly told Jerry he was right about the coolant.
He and a gentleman standing there got a good chuckle at my expense. I had to chuckle a little too, but had he not been a friend of mine, I would have been tempted to lean over and smack that smug smile off his face. I told him all I needed was a smart aleck mechanic, which only made him howl a little louder.
When I asked how much I owed him, he smiled and said, “No charge.” They were still laughing when I drove out of the parking lot.
Rick Watson is a columnist and author. His latest book Life Changes is available on Amazon.com. You can contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.