Saturday, July 15, 2006

Heat Is For The Birds

It's too hot. It's 104ºF outside today. It usually gets this hot in Salt Lake City on average about four or five days a summer, but we've had summers where we've racked up a lot of days at 100º or higher.

How can people stand to live in places where temperatures like this are common? Like Dallas/Ft Worth, Las Vegas, Phoenix, or Tucson, for chrissake. Stand still too long on a sidewalk and watch your feet catch fire. Or your hair.

I know this probably doesn't qualify as global warming, but it's too damn hot for me.

It's 77º inside my little suburban house right now, not uncomfortable, and not bad for cooling from an evaporative cooler, like I've used since we moved here in 1975. I figure if it's at least 20º cooler inside than outside then I'm doing all right. All around me people (including my son) have switched to whole-house comfort systems, furnace and air conditioning all in one. I've heard that people usually love it until they get their first electric bill…then they love it again once they've gotten over the sticker shock; or at least turn it up a few degrees to try to keep the cost manageable. My swamp cooler uses about as much electricity as a light bulb; we never even notice it on our power bill.

This morning I looked out at my overgrown lawn and decided to crank up my old Sears Craftsman mower. I waited until about 8:45 a.m., when it was still cool enough to work outside, but not early enough to wake my neighbors on a lazy summer Saturday morning. First thing that happened after the usual tugs and cursing that accompany starting the old beast, was that the belt broke on the self-propel drive. I swore a few more mighty oaths and then ended up just pushing the mower to cut the grass. God, what a pussy I've become. When I was a kid I mowed my parents' lawn twice a week, going over front and back lawns twice each time I mowed them, for $1.00 a week, and I used an old-fashioned push mower. No motor a'tall. Nowadays if parents made a kid do that he'd have them thrown into jail for child abuse.

Of course, this morning after pushing the Sears Craftsman (a lot heavier than a push mower), I came inside and waited for signs of a heart attack. When no cardiac arrest happened I figured it was time to go shopping.

My wife is gone for the weekend, taking care of her brother's pets, and the older of our two granddaughters. She's having a ball, sitting in a newly remodeled, fully air-conditioned house, in a cool basement family room, on a new sofa, watching a 52" TV. Rough job! I hope she gets extra money for the deplorable working conditions.

What this means is that I have to do my own cooking and feeding myself. That's easy; I'm a guy. That means junk food, easy to fix stuff, like microwave pizza. I told you I was a pussy. No standing over a stove for me. Why cook in this heat when there are so many things you can just pop into the micro for five minutes?

When I walked into the local Albertson's supermarket I saw a bird, a magpie, sitting on the ice machine. A store employee yelled, "Don't scare him!" then got on the loudspeaker to say, "Josiah, he's on the ice machine." I saw who I assumed to be Josiah approaching, a teenage bagger holding what looked like a butterfly net. The whole time I was in the store poor Josiah couldn't catch that bird. I overheard a checker tell a customer that the bird got in through the loading dock door. At one point all of the lights went off and the manager got on the loudspeaker to tell the customers that everything was working, they were just trying to get the bird to go to the light of the open doors. Apparently that didn't work because while groping my way through the dark aisles looking for the canned peaches I'd hear the voices of different employees making announcements, "Josiah, he's on the magazines." "Josiah, he's on the medicine." "Josiah, he's in the cereal aisle." I left the store thinking of all the jobs to have, one of the strangest would have to be bird wrangler in a supermarket.

Ciao for now, El Postino

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