When I graduated from college, I had finished both my bachelors in information technology, and a paid internship with a local IT firm. After graduation, I happily accepted an offer to work with their company, and I found success quickly as I worked for them! Not many people are as fortunate as me, since many of my classmates hadn’t found jobs in their field for over a year after graduation. Still, I felt I’d earned my success, because I didn’t just do my job – I went beyond expectations, and helped find solutions for problems beyond my concern. For example, I was working away on handling a scripting project when I heard a coworker talking about how hot it is in the server room downstairs. They continued to say they really needed to find a fix for the heat in that room, or the servers would overheat and shut down. That’s when I stood up and asked if they thought about using a portable air conditioner for the room. Collectively, those coworkers and myself set out to find a portable air conditioner to cool that room down, and we fortunately found just that. This portable A/C was easily moved, and had a special connecting hose that directed cool air right into the server towers in the basement. It was perfect! We decided to invest in two of them – one for each row of towers – and we noticed a major difference the day after we installed them. The server room was still warm, but not unbearably hot like before. Once again, my coworkers thanked me for going beyond my job to help the company!
So I have this friend – we’ll call him Rob – who’s a bit of an airhead. Rob has a tendency to think too much about little details, rather than focus on the big picture. As a result, he often finds himself making decisions he regrets. Thankfully the decisions haven’t been too long-lasting, as he doesn’t have a bad tattoo or anything like that. However, I’ve been fortunate to be in the room on several occasions where I prevented him from making a BIG mistake. One example would be when he was going to a few different hardware stores to shop around for a new heating system. His old furnace wasn’t cutting it anymore, and he wanted to use a heat source that didn’t count on oil or gas. At one hardware store, a particularly brave salesman convinced Rob that he should buy a heat pump. Now, a heat pump is a great alternative to gas or oil heating, since it doesn’t really require fuel and doubles as an air conditioner, but heat pumps aren’t the best heat source when you live in the far North. Heat pumps are great when you live somewhere with four distinct seasons, not a place where it’s always hot or always cold. Rob, however, was sold – it seemed logical to him, because the heat pump didn’t need fuel. Thankfully I was able to pull Rob aside for a sidebar, and explain that he was about to pour a ton of money into a heating system that wouldn’t keep him even remotely warm! Once he finally realized what I meant, he was quick to ignore any heat pump-based system for the rest of the day. You have to be there for your friends, because you just might prevent a tragedy!
When I was growing up, I shared a bedroom with two brothers in an old farmhouse. While the experience helped me become the head-strong, motivated individual I am today, I’d never want to relive it! I remember how we had a bunk bed and a single hammock – all in the same room. During the hot summer nights, the three of us would brawl over who got to sleep in the hammock since it was so breathable and cool. Sleeping on the mattresses were terrible, since they had heavy cotton lining. The absolute worst was sleeping on the top bunk, because all the heat was at the ceiling. You never realize how hot it is near the ceiling until you spend eight hours trying to sleep in that heat! Oh, those memories have lasted a lifetime to me, and served as a big motivator to be successful. See, my parents weren’t the wealthiest, so we didn’t have the money for modern conveniences like air conditioning. When I finished high school, I made a point to go straight to college, take on an internship and find an excellent job straight out of college! Sure enough, I did just that – and now I can afford to live comfortably in a house with top-of-the-line central air, keeping my house at a very comfortable 70 degrees. Every now and then, my brothers come to visit me at my place and we’ll watch a game to catch up. They always get a laugh when they come over though, because I still love to sleep in a hammock!
At the beginning of July, every year, I take my family on a ten-day trip. We usually choose a tropical destination, and find accommodations within walking distance of the beach. We enjoy relaxing in the sun, swimming in the waves, and simply getting away from the responsibilities of our regular lives. I spend a small fortune to ensure an awesome vacation. I make sure to research the hotels, location and available activities. This past July, I booked us at an all-inclusive resort, thinking we’d have no worries whatsoever. The resort was absolutely gorgeous with three separate pools, hot tubs, tennis courts, five restaurants, and a stunning view of the ocean. It seemed well worth the money until we settled into our room and I couldn’t get the air conditioner to come on. I figured I was doing something wrong, and called down to the front desk for assistance. They sent a maintenance guy, who fiddled with the air conditioner for over half an hour. He couldn’t get it operating, and we were then told that the resort was entirely booked. We couldn’t be moved to a different suite. The management promised to contact an HVAC contractor and have the air conditioner fixed quickly. Since my family spent the whole day either swimming in the pools or lying on the sand, the lack of air conditioning was not a problem. However, when we returned to the room, all hot and sweaty, the overheated conditions were horrible. Although the management provided fans, it was impossible to sleep that night Fortunately, the air conditioner was up and running the following day and the rest of our vacation was perfect.
My boyfriend, Sam, works in the maintenance department of a local college. Because of the demands of his job, he’s become skilled in a wide range of services. He’s able to install and repair a central cooling system, provide maintenance for a boiler system, fix leaky pipes, and handle electrical problems. Sam is wonderful about helping me out with home remodeling, upkeep and sudden malfunctions. I try never to take advantage of his generosity, and always return the favor by helping him with things like laundry, cooking, and running errands. I warned Sam that he should never let my family know how handy he is. I come from a very large family, and it seems like someone is always having a problem with their plumbing, wiring or HVAC system. Since these services are quite costly, my family is more than willing to ask for free help. Sam is just a super nice guy, and when my mother’s furnace quit while having us over for dinner, he volunteered to fix it. He went out to his truck, brought in his tools and proceeded to take the heating system apart. Within half an hour, he had the furnace running perfectly and it didn’t cost my mother anything. Since then, my brothers and sisters have continually called Sam for everything from replacing a heat pump to installing an air purifier. He’s cleaned the cooling coil on my older sister’s air conditioner and replaced the combustion assembly on my younger brother’s furnace. He’s even helped my cousin install an entire ductless system. No one is offering to pay him, and they are taking up all of his free time.
My friends and I love going on weekend retreats here and there, but the best is when we have an opportunity to go to a resort for four or five days. Getting plenty of time away to recharge our batteries and relax away from work is a critical thing for most of us, as we work high-stress jobs. I myself work as a radio tower repairman, and my job requires me to scale radio towers with heavy equipment. Each day brings dangers that you’d never think about! With that in mind, I make sure every break I get is worthwhile. Recently, we decided we were going to a ski resort about six hours away from where we lived, and we were all excited as could be! Half of us hadn’t even seen snow before, myself included, so we couldn’t wait to get out to the slopes and do some skiing and snowboarding. The morning came for us to head out, and when we arrived to the resort later that day, we were greeted by a front desk receptionist with a long face and a heavy coat. We figured it was cold inside the front room due to the snowfall outside, but the receptionist explained to us how the heating system has been acting out all week. We were told that our rooms would likely be lacking any decent heat, and that we would be entitled to a refund for our deposit. We all looked at each other for a moment, considering packing up and heading home with our stuff – but then we realized that we likely wouldn’t get a chance to go skiing again til next season. As a group, we agreed to suffer in the cold if we must. Besides, that night, we had heat in our room since an HVAC professional was called in to repair the system. I’m glad we didn’t buckle and drive back home!
These days, we live in a society where everyone seems more on edge than ever. I can’t seem to give an innocent compliment to a stranger without somehow offending someone else, and any decision I make seems to be judged by people online. It can be a real bother trying to live a stress-free life, especially when you have a hard time ignoring the disapproval of others. For these times, I’ve found that it’s important to have some kind of outlet that is just for you. It could be something as simple as working out in your garage, playing instruments in a quiet room by yourself, and the like. For me in particular, I’ve found the perfect quiet spot for oil painting – an indoor storage facility. Who would’ve thought such an overlooked place would be so ideal? I started using this outlet when I was helping a friend move some stuff into the same storage facility. He was explaining to me how the air conditioned storage rooms were perfect for storing some antique wood furniture, and continued to tell me how he’s seen people come to their storage units just to relax or work on their laptop. Coincidentally, I’d been looking for a place to paint in peace, since my roomates love to criticize my work without my welcome! So, I decided to rent out a storage unit in this facility, brought some painting supplies in, and I’ve been coming twice a week ever since. What’s even better is that I can control the airflow to my particular unit with a simple thermostat installed inside my unit. This is great on colder nights, when the facility’s heating could be overpowering or when the air conditioning is too strong on warm days. The best part about this storage unit is that no one knows I have it! I’m so glad I rented this unit out when I did. I was getting real tired of trying to paint with oil in a hot apartment!
My in-laws signed up for a summer program that I had never heard of before. It is called the Fresh Air Program. This allows kids from the inner city to experience a more country life and find out that there is more out there than the concrete and smog that they experience everyday. When the kids first arrived we were a little concerned. My in-laws are in their sixties and keeping up with two ten year old girls seemed like it was going to be a handful. They planned all sorts of activities for the girls like camping, the zoo, and even a few days at the beach. All of these were normal for them, but, the girls had never been outside that long before or had to use an outhouse like they did while camping. They were scheduled to spend a full month but after a week they seemed miserable. No matter what my mother-in-law tried she couldn’t get to them. I invited them over to hang out with our girls for the night and finally figured out what was going on. You see, my in-laws are very old fashioned and don’t have any sort of air conditioning at their house. When the girls were at my house, where we have air conditioning, they seemed much happier. I asked them about their homes and they said that they really missed being able to hang out inside, with an HVAC system going. I said that I understood because, I too, enjoyed the cool comfort, but, I also enjoyed being outside in the fresh air. They said that where they lived, outside meant that they had to breathe in the smog and pollution that came from living in a concrete world. By the end of the month I think they would say that they enjoyed their stay after all but the lack of air conditioning was a real wake up call for them.
Our girls are involved in Scouting and I love helping out with their troop. We are able to participate in some really cool events and help out with community service projects. It makes for great life lessons for the girls too. As one of the perks of volunteering, we get to go on trips and overnights to some interesting places. Last month we were invited to spend the night at our local science museum and take advantage of the planetarium. We were all really excited about the whole event. They set up a room where we could all sleep on the floor in sleeping bags. That part wasn’t as exciting for me, but, I looked forward to spending time with the girls. When we arrived everything seemed great and we started the evening with tour of the entire museum. The show at the planetarium would have been great if it wasn’t so stuffy. I seemed like we were all stuck in the auditorium for hours watching the star show while feeling like we couldn’t breathe. We asked the staff member if there was a problem with the HVAC system and they said that they normally didn’t have it running in the auditorium. They said that the roof of the room opened up so that on very clear nights guests could sit comfortably and watch the stars. For that reason, climate control was usually not needed or practicle. I was really not happy with that answer and tried to sit back and enjoy the rest of the show. I was glad when it ended and we were able to head back to the room where were supposed to sleep. At least it was perfectly air conditioned. Sleeping on the floor wasn’t so bad when I could at least be cool and comfortable.
When my husband started his new job, he was constantly busy on the weekends. They requires him to be on call every other weekend. On his weekends off, they still managed to find a reason to get him into the office. We were going to take the kids to the amusement park last weekend, when my husband had to go to the office to deal with some lawyers on the phone. He was going to be back in an hour. While he was gone, the air conditioner stopped working. It wasn’t very warm outside, but I could tell the air conditioner had stopped blowing cold air. I called my husband on his cell several times, before he finally picked up. He sounded annoyed, when I explained the HVAC problems. When I asked him if he could come home, he ordered me to contact the HVAC supplier instead. Then he hung up the phone abruptly. When I called back, the phone went right to voicemail. I called my Mom to pick up the kids, and I drove right down to the office. On my way, I contacted the HVAC repair service and made an appointment. I called my husband six times on my way to the office, but he didn’t answer his phone even once. I was going to give his boss an earful, when I arrived. As I was walking in the door, my Mom called to tell me the HVAC technician had arrived. I marched right up to my husbands office, and his receptionist looked puzzled. When I asked to see him, she said it was his day off.