Mission Impossible: AC, AM & The BoSox – Part 1

It sat in the back of the car, padded like a delicate ticking bomb. One false step on the brake and we’d both be crushed. A heavy box of tools for the task at hand sat snugly beside the precious cargo. My partner in crime was calmer than me. I always worried more, happier to expect the worse and be granted a better outcome. Emotional insurance. You learn it after enough disappointments. We crawled along, the minutes growing tenser. Snarled in traffic at one point, we slowed to a stop. The weekend unfurled ahead. Lady Gaga was playing. My friend Skip was in the car and we talked about the plan.

He didn’t anticipate any problems. The biggest hurdle would be in getting the unit up the stairs, or so he explained. I had visions of much worse: trying and failing to dissemble what was already there, taking out some hapless passers-by below, or discovering that we lacked an essential tool or part to successfully complete the mission. As the traffic cleared, the day could be seen for the beauty that it was: sunny and warm and the perfect re-entry into Boston. We hadn’t been here together for almost exactly a year. And though a wise woman once remarked that you can never do the same twice, no matter how fierce, I held onto hope that this weekend would be just as fun and exciting as the very first time.

Before we could officially let loose however, there was the mission: installation of a new air conditioning unit. After over twenty years of faithful service (and a couple of seasons of very loud and noisy and rattling service) it was time for our very first AC to retire. I’d asked Skip if he would help me take out the old and install the new during our Boston Red Sox weekend, and he was game. (Get it???)

I had complete confidence that he knew how to make it happen, re-enforced by the serious tool set he brought along with him. We pulled up to the condo, unloaded the AC (the only hairy part of the ordeal thus far) and got back in the car to park. After a quick yet unanticipatedly-extensive beer run (who knew that they didn’t sell beer at the 7-11?) we made it back to the condo and headed into the sunlit bay-window of the bedroom, which housed a dusty old air conditioning unit that looked like it had been welded into place.

What served to solidify its placement and running all these decades was an installation job that required a whole lot more work than Skip originally envisioned. Long screws had been drilled through the metal framework of the window. Thick gobs of caulking, hardened into cement-like grips, ran around the entire unit and inside the window. Just when we thought we could pull the thing out, another screw revealed itself, embedded deeper within and requiring excavation. Carrying the thing upstairs soon seemed like a cakewalk compared to getting this beast free, but finally it budged.

I fanned myself and took a sip of a gin & tonic. (Thank goodness for Andy’s stock of Fevertree Tonic Water, and a fresh lime.) Watching all of this unfold was sweaty, draining work. A bit of dust from the old unit had settled on my shoe and I hastened to kick it off. I presented Skip with the next step: a support for the new AC, which was slightly heavier and larger than what formerly occupied the space. He installed it in no time, and soon we had the new unit in the window and running with ease. Instantly, the room felt cooler, and with the additional BTUs I could already discern a noticeable difference. Skip had just saved summer at the condo.

We went out to Boston Chops to celebrate, because when you do something that uses power tools you want a steak dinner with an endless stream of fries. You also want a cocktail and some red wine. And then you go on a gay bar crawl and get humiliated by your straight friend. But that’s another story for another post… and not in the upcoming Part 2 of this tale. Come back anyway.

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