Sunday, June 6, 2010

awkward air conditioner adventure - awesome alliteration!

This story is similar to my pool saga, except I didn't have as bad of a day.  But it shows my tendency to rely on brute force (as much as I can muster, anyway) and determination rather than proper tools and common sense.

This is my apartment, or flat as one friend called it, in Illinois - it really was great!  Third-story apt. over shops on a quaint downtown street...but no a/c.  I discovered that Illinois-ers (?) aren't as into a/c as much as Kansans are, probably because they're further...north, and usually cooler.  I stuck it out for a while, but this KS girl needed her a/c.  (Time out:  I just went into the kitchen...I can't remember why now, but I caught Chester in the back yard eating one of my socks.  And I found my debit card in my sweats pocket, where I left it yesterday and would have almost washed it today.  Anyway, back to our story....)

So I drove to a store and bought a window unit.  Planning ahead?  What's to plan?  A guy put it on a cart for me and rolled it to the car, and I said, "Oh, you don't have to do that, I can get it," and he laughed.  Then we lifted it into my trunk and I said, "Oh my.  I had no idea these things were so heavy."  I drove back home, parked on the busy-ish downtown street (it's Saturday) near the apartment entrance, and willed that dang thing up over the lip of the trunk; gravity helped me get it to the ground.  Okay, I think, this is going differently than I expected, but it's no problem, I have all day, and if I have to lug this thing up one stair at a time with breaks in between until I reach my 3rd-floor apartment, I'll do it.  So I closed the trunk, bent down to get a grip on one of the plastic bands around the box, and pulled.  The thing didn't even budge.  Nothing moved, except for a few vertebrae in my back.  I couldn't even get the thing on the curb.  Okay.......I think, I can deal with this, I'd like to phone a friend now, Regis, except this is before cell phones (and Regis) were common, so I didn't have either one.  So do I leave the a/c in the street, run up 3 flights of stairs, make a quick call, and come back?  Do I ask one of the stores if I can use their phone?  Do I just yell "help" until my friends who live less than a block away hear me and come running?  None of those ideas sounded real good, not nearly as good as my idea to do this whole thing alone, and I decided that my thinking time had given me enough of a rest and I could at least get this thing on the curb now.  Bend, pull, grunt, nothing.

I've had a few interested onlookers by now, but this was one of the most snobby, most tony suburbs of Chicago (I just happened to find a place there - I did NOT fit in!) and I was in my usual Saturday casual attire with no makeup.  Probably pretty similar to how I looked in the "dressing myself" post in the 90s, but without the duck boots.  Needless to say, these people did not want to get involved, and were probably trying to figure out how a homeless person got into their realm and why she wanted to steal an air conditioner.  Fortunately, a very nice young man took pity on me, or was doing some community service time and decided this would count as cleaning up the streets - no, silly me, Lake Forest doesn't have people who do community service!  (Yes, I'm a snob snob.)  He kindly asked me if I needed help (you think?!) and I said yes before I told him I lived on the 3rd floor.  Once we got in the street-level door, I said we could just leave it there and I could go call someone, but he said he'd help me carry it all the way up, which he did, then promptly set it down with me outside my apt. door and nearly ran back down the stairs.

I opened the door and shoved the thing along the floor to the window - thank goodness I had hard-wood floors, not carpet.  Now what? I think.  For some reason I don't want to call for help to install the a/c - my middle name is I can do it MYSELF!  So I came up with the following process:

1.  take apart a/c and lift casing into window to check fit
2.  realize window sill isn't wide/deep enough and look around for a solution
3.  take a couple of loose boards from the wooden crates my uncle built for me and screw them, manually, into the window sill - yessiree bob, of course I didn't have power tools!
4.  install casing
5.  pull chair over to window
6.  focus all my strength and will and grunting ability on getting the main part of the a/c from the floor to the chair
7.  repeat #6, except go from chair to casing
8.  screw everything back together
9.  realize the side screens/whatever don't quite reach the frame, and fill in the gaps with sheets
10.  try out a/c - it worked!!!
11.  think maybe next time I should plan this kind of thing out first - which is why my pool installation several years later went so well

I may be a ditz, but I was darn proud of myself, and lived in comfort the rest of my days (until they sold the building and kicked everyone out because the new owners didn't want apartments up there).  You bet I took my a/c with me.  I left the boards, though.

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