Air Conditioner Blues

My air conditioner died. You say, oh, boo hoo, Ms. first world air conditioner. We don’t even have air conditioning! Back in my day, we conditioned air by hand with mules and pulleys!

Yes, but you didn’t foolishly decide to plant your delicate Nordic genes in Los Angeles during a heat wave where it was this hot:

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And that was written before my air conditioning died. It has been in the low-900’s to mid-1000’s (mid-300s to 583° Celsius) for most of August during which my c. twenty year old AC unit was having difficulty doing its job, because it was too busy dying a slow death.

I called my handyman (the joy of renting, not owning) and demanded it be fixed tout de suite! Weeks later, he was crawling around on my roof. He only showed when he received a frantic call that it was entirely dead.

Friday night, at 106° Fahrenheit (41° C), I came home to find a sweltering abode. The result of frantic call: handyman wouldn’t even be able to look at it until tomorrow morning at the earliest.

My house was designed for central air conditioning, i.e., air circulation wasn’t a factor when they slapped the papier mâché walls together. My two-story apartment has only four windows on two sides. Two of them are exceptionally over-sized, but one of them doesn’t even open. The house was designed around air conditioning, which it no longer had.

I spent my Friday night driving to three different stores in search of a fan. I do not own a fan, because my house is designed for central air conditioning. The first store had none. Not one fan. Not even one of those almost pointless USB fans. Apparently, I’m not the only one who found themselves without means of cooling during this heat wave.

The second store only had one ridiculously fancy antique-brass oscillating floor fan priced at $119 (seriously, who needs that?). I like air circulation as much as the next guy, but not that much.

The third store only had box fans. Well, I do have two windows that open in which a box fan might be appropriate. Sold.

I didn’t relish the idea of returning to my house and I did consider running away from home, but then I thought of these guys who sucked all the fun out of such irresponsible notions:


By the time I got back from my fool’s fan errand, it was dark outside. Fortunately, I live in the desert. While this means 106 F is probable, it also means that, once the sun goes away, so does the heat. This is great when your central AC breaks down in a heat wave, but not so great if you’re stranded in the middle of the desert. Heat in LA is not like east coast heat that sticks around all night. With few exceptions, it tends to run away shortly after the sun. Still, it had been 106 degrees that day and my house was all of them.

I set up my box fans to first blow all the hot air out, then, to suck all the cooler night air in. By the time I foolishly tried to sleep, it was probably only around 95 degrees in my bed. I didn’t sleep.

I waited on handyman in my hothouse the next morning. At approximately no longer morning at all, he finally showed. I awaited the expected news that the unit was irreparable and it would take another month of 106 to get a new one. Surprisingly, for once, the news was better than expected.

The good news is, the unit isn’t entirely dead! The bad news is that the condenser is broken and I don’t have another one. Maybe I can fix it later today if I can find the part.

I had to stick around and wait for “maybe later today.” One hundred and six degrees. Someone please explain to me why I live in the valley.

I thought about running away to someplace cool. I even checked into hotel rooms in Santa Barbara. Did you know there’s not a single pet-friendly hotel room anywhere in Santa Barbara for less than $100 a night? Damn my brokeness. Sometimes, being poor really kills spontaneity, especially when I just blew my wad on box fans.

I checked into local hotel rooms, but I just couldn’t justify spending $50+ on a hotel room I can walk to, even if it did have sweet, sweet air conditioning. The innards of my house were somewhere around 30 Kelvins.

Then, right about when the sun went down, handyman proved himself worthy of the name. He rode up on a white horse (alright, it was a pickup truck, but it was, in fact, white) with a condenser! I slept the sleep of frigid northern angels and dreamed of glaciers that night.

Sunday, I sat inside my cold apartment most of the day with socks on my feet because they were cold (COLD!) and thumbed my nose at the sweltering heat on the outside where it belongs. Ah, the joys of air conditioning. Never again will we part ways.