When the Heating and Air guy told me we needed a “three and a half ton unit” to replace our old HVAC system, I didn’t realize he was referring to how many tons of gold it would take to pay for the thing. I told him their unit should come with a complimentary ski mask, revolver and a map of all the banks in the area. What it actually came with is a sales pitch to upgrade to various and sundry add-ons besides just the stuff that heats and cools the house.

As part of his sales spiel, he spoke for ten minutes about how well built the unit was then asked if I wanted a warranty in case it breaks.

It was probably best he didn’t provide me a revolver.

Of course, I paid the vig like all us suckers do and we have a nice, new HVAC unit pumping cold air into the house. I later spoke to a friend who builds houses. He told me HVAC companies charge 300 percent over cost for their units. I do not consider myself the mean-spirited sort, but, after hearing that, I hope that when HVAC company owners die, they are sent to purgatory where they are forced to sit in an unairconditioned room during a South Carolina summer that lasts a few thousand years.

But I am not mean spirited.

Back in the stone age, when I was a kid, I didn’t notice the heat. I worked outdoor jobs like dairy hand, hog farm hand, painting lines on asphalt flunky, warehouse worker (ok – that was sort of indoors, but it was unairconditioned) and stuff like that. Anybody who complained about the heat (or cold for that matter) we called a “weather wimp.”

“Did you hear about Bob?” one of us would say to the other.

“No,” the other would say. “What about Bob?”

“He said, ‘Man, I am about to roast,’ then spontaneously combusted in the dairy barn from the heat.”

“He said that?”


“What a weather wimp.”

Like I said, I never noticed the heat back in the day. These days I notice the heat a lot. If I walk down the driveway to get the mail in the summer, I need one of the kids to follow me with a garden hose so they can squirt me with a mist while I walk.

I am typing this in air-conditioned comfort, so I guess I can’t complain too much. I still think the HVAC folks should lower their prices or, at least, offer their clients counseling to help them get over the sticker shock of what largely amounts to an electric motor and a few coils. All I can say is I better get my money’s worth. For what I paid for the thing, if I set the system on ‘cold’ and mash the button, I expect the authorities to find my frozen, lifeless body standing in front of the thermostat.

If a HVAC person is reading this, I remind you that everything I write, I write in jest. I really would not wish a few thousand years of a South Carolina summer on you. Five or six hundred years should do.