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Home Repair

My AC debacle started around the 11th. It was a Saturday, when Will, who took over the business from Curt when Curt died, answered our call.

Every Friday, my old college roommate sends me a letter. Now it’s an email. We’ve kept this correspondence for 45 plus years. Over the decades, we’ve discussed many topics. In recent years, the top ten always include appliances on the blink or not being able to access internet, or computer problems in general. Today I responded to her: “I hear ya, Sister! And I can diagnose your problem. It’s the same as mine. We’re old! Officially old f-rts, and technology is going too fast!”

I still recall the look on my elderly dad’s face when I could turn on the TV for him, and he’d say: “You’re a genius, Erika.” Prior to that, he was up at the screen peering around looking for knobs. Sad, huh? – I’ll be there soon!

My go-to guy is my third son: Partly because he seems to understand computers the best, and partly because he has more patience than my other kids. My daughter shows some kindness with me, but she’s not as much a computer guru as he. This son is understanding although I know he thinks I rival Jim Carey in Dumb and Dumber. He seems more tolerant of his dad’s questions and ineptitude than my queries and confusion but still… he does have patience. Maybe that’s why he’s a doctor. One needs patience to have patients!

My pal Cora wrote me about her troubles with Wi-Fi, the dishwasher that wouldn’t empty, and the coffee machine. I commiserated and launched into my own sad saga about air conditioning compressors and condensers. Any of you living in the Carolinas during July 2020 while we were confined to our homes, sheltering in place, should empathize with the plight of having AC snafus. My AC debacle started around the 11th. It was a Saturday, when Will, who took over the business from Curt when Curt died, answered our call. Our main floor’s unit didn’t work well. It cooled but not sufficiently in the 100-degree heat spell. The house couldn’t get below 78. Mine is a big house. Luckily, the component for our master bedroom worked. And the other upstairs unit for the other bedrooms worked. So, we could sleep at night even if the downstairs was a sauna.

Will came promptly, fixed the main floor’s unit, and my husband paid him on the spot. Then, my husband added he’d like him to check out the other units. Because Will didn’t have time that day, he’d return next week.

On Wednesday, Will sent Jimmy, and a guy named Joel I’d not met before. They looked at the other two units adding Freon, etc.; the bill was 300 something dollars, which I paid. Jimmy was talkative. The other one, Joel, grinned a lot, which kind of worried me. Three days later we had no AC in our master bedroom, which had been working fine. So, Jimmy returned alone on the 17th and told me it was Joel who had worked on that unit, but he’d look into it. Jimmy was up in the attic moving things around and said he put a slant on the pipe, and so the pan shouldn’t fill up with water causing the thing to automatically turn off.

Yet, Sunday, again, we had no AC in our master bedroom. On Monday, the 20th, both Jimmy and Joel returned and went to the attic, and Jimmy said he tried to straighten out a bubble in the pipe and hoped it would now work. My parting words were: “You think I’ll see you again in two days?”

And he said, “I hope not.”

Two days later, same problem. Hubby cleared the space in the basement because he thought they’d need to check all the pipes coming down.

On the 23rd, Joel and someone new, named Jay, arrived. I called Will and said I’d like him out here too because I felt he had the experience to figure out what was wrong. So, Will told me he had a lot of “crap” to deal with, but he’d come. He came, along with a kid who looked 17, a redhead, his son-Davey. Will traipsed to the basement with his son. He told me he wasn’t sure he could fix the problem without tearing through walls. And I told him my husband wondered if when Jimmy and Joel blew out the pipes, they could have caused some debris to get clogged in a joint. Will thought not. It was all just a coincidence, he said, but he went to the van to see if they had some sort of machine. All four returned to the heat stroke-inducing attic. I kept my distance and never joined them because it was too hot up there for them to wear masks. It must have been 130!

Anyway, I heard clanging and a boom.

Will found me in my study and told me to come out into the foyer, and he looked up at a huge hole. He said his foot went through some plywood, and the contractor hadn’t done a good job when they built this house, and it could have happened to us. I didn’t say that we’ve been living here for 19 years, and it never happened to us, and my husband catches squirrels up there. Each day, he checks the trap.

Will said he has someone to do sheetrock repair, and he’ll take care of it. (I guess the bill.) Will said he thought he had the AC working now. I noticed all his helpers: Joel, Jay, and his son had slipped out the back door. Quietly.
Well, Burt called last night, a very chatty jovial guy, who told me he fixes messes HVAC folks and plumbers and electricians make. He knew about Will’s son stepping through the ceiling. I said, “Will told me he did it.”

Burt corrected himself, “Oh yeah, maybe it was Will.”

I told my husband the story; he said, “Makes sense it was the kid.”

SO…now that the AC’s working, you know what keeps me up? Squirrels! What if they jump down from my hole in the foyer ceiling? It’ll be two weeks before Burt can get out here.

And then after my hard day of home improvements and home destruction, I ate three hefty scoops of Double Magnum Sea Salt Caramel ice cream, my new cure-all, while hiding out from Covid-19.

Later that night, when the wind was blowing dead trees back and forth, just before I knocked off to sleep, I thought: “OH NO! A tree’s gonna come crashing through our roof, filled with rabid squirrels?”

And immediately my next thought was: “Maybe, tomorrow, if I don’t succumb to a dead tree or virus-ridden rodents, I’ll write up my home improvement saga. Of course, I’ll have to change the names to protect the… GUILTY!”


  1. Yep, I’m an old f-rt! And yep, technology and appliances frequently cause extreme angst in my house! But you know … it’s 2020. Strangeness abounds, and I’ve come to expect the unexpected. Eventually, all that stuff that breaks will get fixed or replaced. It’s not just the younger generation that needs to have patience, right?

  2. I think you pretty much described the frustrations of our generation! My husband can fix almost anything, but we will agonize over the technology components. Our children, somehow, have technology expertise and have no patience in imparting their knowledge. I often remind them that I changed their diapers for many years. They are not impressed.

  3. I like and agree with your Double Magnum Sea Salt Caramel ice cream cure all. Is your ceiling fixed yet?

  4. Thanks for sharing this latest misadventure, Erika. Like Roseanne Roseannadanna used to say…”it’s always something!” Ice cream cures just about anything, doesn’t it? xox

  5. I always appreciate how this writer shares her personal stories and writes them with humor. I can so relate to the home repair and computer frustrations! Perhaps I need to look at situations differently and see the lighter side of things. Thank you for writing and sharing and giving your readers hope!

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