Monday, July 5, 2010

Air Conditioning and Independence

My window air conditioner unit has become a metaphor for my life. It began as just a simple item on my To-Do list, and it's grown to a battle of wills.

Let me explain.

Last year, my mother and sister helped me move in to my new apartment. They also helped me install my air conditioner window unit.

Then last December, I took it out of the window (It had icicles.) It's a nice big, powerful model (which I love!), but SHOOT I didn't realize how heavy it was. I hefted and heaved and carefully got the AC inside my room. But then - THEN - I realized that the best place to store it would be above the closet. Oh dear.

I hoisted it up to my shoulders, balanced on a chair, and just barely shoved it into the closet. There was a scary moment when I thought: oh gees, we're tipping backwards! But when push came to shove (literally), I'm pretty strong and I wasn't about to let an AC fall on me.

So all was well and good. But fast forward to now.

It's July. It's hot. And sticky. It's been this way since June. But since June, I've been avoiding putting in my AC. My problem? I didn't think I could get it out of the closet. Up is one thing - but down is a tricky problem too.

Today it came to a head. I was cleaning all day today, and during the afternoon it kept getting hotter and hotter. I thought to myself, this is ridiculous! I OWN an AC!

But unlike last year, I have nobody to help me install it. There is nobody in the dorm - everybody has left for the summer. Even housekeeping is not around today, it's a holiday. I have a few friends who might give me a hand, but they don't live close by. And though I hate to admit it, I'm stubborn to a fault. I don't like being dependent on other people. For anything. Which apparently in the way my mind works, includes installing ACs.

So. I'm independent! I can DO this! And first things first - to get it out of the closet.

I cleared everything around the AC, and gave it an experimental heft. Umphf! Yeah. It was still heavy. But I was sure since I got it up there, I could get it down. Right? Right.

Folks, it wasn't pretty. There was some grunting involved. There was another scary moment. It was a good thing I had a chair nearby to set it on. I may or may not have a bruise on my knee. The important thing is, I got it down.

See? Still independent!

Moving on. I opened the window, installed the mounting hardware (yay for tools!). I lifted the air conditioner up to the sill, and.... well, this is where I got stuck.

I just simply did not have the physical arm strength to hold that heavy thing out the window and get it properly installed. I tried, though - but it's a problem of levers. Leaning out the window, you have much less leverage than when you hold your arms close to your body. And the compressor, the heavy part, is way out on the back end.

And even if I DID have the arm strength, I don't have an extra arm left over to close the window around the top of the AC to hold it in place.

But MAN the whole thing frustrated me. I wanted the AC installed NOW. And I can DO THINGS ON MY OWN. No matter that I could possibly drop this on someone's head walking under me on the sidewalk. No, I don't need anybody else for anything else in life, why can't this be the same?

I don't know why I got myself in such a twist, but it became a little silly. I thought, come on Miss Outlier, be a little resourceful here.

I thought, well maybe if I had a strap around it to give me better grip? So I got out my box strap (used to hold square drawers or cabinets while they dry).

Figure: Miss Outlier, refusing to accept the inevitable.

Unfortunately the strap didn't fit very well. I was standing there trying to jimmy the thing into working, and I thought - Miss Outlier, why don't you just give up? Obviously you just need to ask for help.

I don't like asking for help. But I need to do it more often. Repeat after me, self: I am not invincible. And I have limited arm strength.

You can actually put in a work request at the dorm for help installing an AC (which makes sense - I guess they don't want undergrads hanging out of windows. Or grad students, I suppose...). I opened up the work order request page. I resigned myself to the fact I need help.

But even then, my mind wouldn't accept it. I thought - really? I can't do this? Surely I can.

So, I'm sorry to admit, I tried one last time. And no, quite assuredly no, I couldn't safely do it.

So I pressed "Submit." At some point a handyman will be showing up to help a decidedly dejected MechE girl install a window AC.

So the bottom line is I may need to attend a self-help class. Hello, my name is Miss Outlier, and I have trouble asking for help.

I wonder why I got so wadded up in this particular issue? I know it seems silly, but it really did feel like me against that AC. I don't know why it's so hard for me to accept my limitations. Are there any other classic overachievers out there with this problem?

At least I can say in the end I did not drop anything out the window. The AC is now sitting on my desk a few feet away from my bed, waiting for the repairman. I did the right thing.

But I swear that AC is watching and laughing at me.... :)

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