Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Aaaahhhh, air conditioning!

Air conditioners on sale at Costco, just in time for summer. Really cool ones, digital, with remote controls. You can set them for a particular room temperature, and they’ll cool your room just way you want it. They’ll cool up to a 10 x 15 room, and for only $100. I bought three, one for each bedroom, and one for the living room. (Yes, our rooms really are that small—this is NY, after all.) I’ve never bought a big ticket item like this in multiples. Interesting feeling to actually be able to afford it. So I spent Saturday evening installing them in the windows and then ‘shrink wrapping’ the window above the unit with that plastic window insulation to keep the heat out, and the cool air inside. A bit of a job, but then, I’m used to doing things myself -- I’ve lived alone since I was a senior in high school (okay, alone in the sense of no adults; I do have two kids, so I’m never really ‘alone’).

As I’m putting in the new units, I start thinking about what to do with the old conditioners. They still work, just not as effectively, or as energy efficiently (they are 5 or 6 years old). I started wishing there were a donation system for the elderly, much like the used cell phone donation systems that nonprofits sometimes have. I think about the elderly, especially in the city, in walk-ups with no air conditioning, no fan even, and how they survive the heat waves of the city. Well, sometimes don’t survive, as we seem to lose a few every summer to the heat. Even an older air conditioner would be a godsend to someone in that position. I’ll have to do a little research and see what I can come up with.

I am remembering, too, and reminiscing with my daughter, how we used to handle the heat when we were too poor for even a fan. Inside the apartment would be unbearable, but getting out of the place, to outside, was just as unbearable. And we couldn’t really afford to go anywhere. Lakes and beaches were too far away, and I couldn’t afford the gas to get there. And the local pool had an entrance fee that I couldn’t afford. So I’d make a lunch, pack us up and go, of all places, to the local mall. The mall had a small playground for the children, and a place for parents to sit. So I’d bring a good book, my daughter would play, and my son would ‘hang out’ with a friend he’d bring along. We’d spend the hottest hours of the day in the cool comfort of mall air conditioning. We were really lucky to live so close to a public, air conditioned facility.

Now we’re enjoying the cool air of multiple air conditioners, in each room! Who would’ve thought we’d ever get here? I’m finding, though, as I can afford more things, that I can’t forget that there are people everywhere who are where I was financially. I feel almost guilty for enjoying things when others can’t, especially when I remember what it was like for us. Honestly, I think that’s a good thing. I should never forget where I’ve come from, or that others are still there. But right now, at this moment...aaahhhh, air conditioning!

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