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Andrea Langworthy's column: Lessons learned

My husband walked into the house last Friday and immediately checked the thermostat. “Seventy-seven degrees,” he said. He opened the front door and announced the air conditioner had stopped working.

As he went downstairs to scope out something, he suggested I call the gas company that holds the repair contract we pay for every month.

The person I spoke with said he could probably get a technician out the following week. I told him that wouldn’t do as I was having a family dinner on Sunday. Told him it had been 15 years since my four siblings and I had been together.

When that didn’t work, I told him — truthfully — about the autoimmune disease I have. “I don’t think it would be good for me to bake in this 77-degree oven that long,” I added for emphasis. He agreed and gave me a window in which to expect someone the next day. Eight to eight.

The woman who cleans for us arrived the next morning. I told her because of the house’s heat index, I would add something extra to her check for hazard pay. My husband left to pick up asparagus, salmon, potato salad, cole slaw and pie. The smile on his face as he said good-bye told me he was looking forward to being in an air-conditioned car.

By three o’clock, the cleaning was finished, the food was in the fridge and I was frazzled. Dizzy and nauseated, too. I called the gas company to get an estimated arrival time for the repair person and mentioned, to no avail, how many years we had paid for the maintenance and repair contract.

My hubby and I ate dinner in the bedroom thinking the overhead fan might make a difference. Instead, it just circulated the now 80-degree heat in the house with the still air and high temps coming through the open windows. “Let’s close them,” I suggested. “The blinds, too. If we can’t see sunlight, it might seem cooler.”

At 8:30, I made another call. The technicians work until dark, I was told. I pointed out that would be anytime soon. A minute after I hung up the phone, the dispatcher called to say someone had been en route from Eden Prairie when a gas leak call came in. “They take precedence,” he said.

Thirty minutes later, the technician called. He was on the way. Long after dark, he diagnosed the problem. The starter needed to be replaced. The part was in his truck.

Even with the A/C working, I felt worse the next day. I went back and forth about calling off the event. Two of my sisters would hear nothing about it. One reminded me of how long it had been since we were last together.

“We can do it,” my better half said. We set the table and got the serving dishes ready.

By 5:30, beverages were being sipped. Cheese and crackers were being nibbled. The fish was baking. Stories and laughter ensued. “Remember when” was said over and over.

Last weekend taught me two things: The first, time slows down when you’re waiting for a repair person and speeds up when you’re having the time of your life. The second? Air conditioning is a luxury. Family is a necessity.

Nathan Hansen

Nathan Hansen has been a reporter and editor with the Farmington Independent and the Rosemount Town Pages since 1997. He is very tall.

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