Last week the maintenance office e-mailed me with a 10 am Monday appointment to finally get my air conditioner fixed. So at 11 I was fuming. I checked the e-mail for the day -- it was given as 7/8/06, and even after years here I occasionally scan dates American-format, but it also said Monday, which is hard to argue -- and while this wouldn't be the first time they gave me the wrong date or time for an appointment, they really didn't need another hit to their credibility. I did consider the possibility that they were just late, so I left a post-it note on my door that I was gone to the maintenance office, and would be back very shortly.
I stormed in. I'm not a natural stormer. When I shoved the door open the three people in the office froze. ``I want to know what time my ten o'clock appointment is.'' They looked honestly afraid, and one leapt on the phone to find the repair guys, which is good since that question was pretty much my entire planned campaign. I had notions of declaring I'd find someone to fix the air conditioner and send them the bill, but you can't say that while they're looking for their someones. They said their someones were already at my block, and asked me to check.
And in a few minutes, happily, someone showed up to fix the air conditioner. The pipes -- tucked against the ceiling -- from the condenser to the master bedroom had to be replaced, and for several hours up to five men with two ladders were wandering in and out through the maid's entrance (a back door adjacent to my front door, but accessible from my patio instead of my living room), an entrance I don't think about much. Meanwhile I sat at my computer trying to look busy, but the problem with a computer-oriented job is that looking busy is indistinguishable from looking like you're wasting time, and I feel awkward wasting time while people do real jobs.
After four hours and a great deal of clattering, the man who'd first knocked at my door pointed to my bedroom, said, ``It's fixed,'' and walked out the door. I checked and, yes, the air conditioner was blowing cold air again. I looked around -- often there's some sort of postmortem of these appointments -- but they'd packed up, entirely, swept my kitchen floor, and left, without a trace except that so far the air conditioner is still blowing cold air. I'm hoping it really is fixed.
Trivia: In summer 1620 Cornelis Drebbel was commissioned to cool the Great Hall of Westminster Abbey for King James I. How he accomplished this is unclear. Source: Absolute Zero and the Conquest of Cold, Tom Shachtman.
Currently Reading: War for the Union, 1863-1864: The Organized War, Allan Nevins.