The Dude on the Right
It’s hot here this weekend in the Chicago area, so of course all of the local
news stories are about drinking a lot of fluids, checking on the elderly, and
creative ways to beat the heat. Some try to blame global warming, and I’m
not dismissing the notion of global warming because I do think we are messing up
our environment, but for the most part, lost in all of these stories, is the
fact that there have always been hot spells from time to time, but maybe we have
just lost our ability to adapt as the weather changes, maybe lost some of
our connection as family because we no longer necessarily live near our loved
ones, and we also no longer really give a damn about our neighbors. I for
one thank, I mean blame, one man for this, and his name is
Carrier, and he is considered the man who invented air conditioning.
was a time, and I don’t remember it, when air conditioning in your home, in your
car, at work, at the store, didn’t exist. You didn’t live your life to be
at a comfortable 70ish degrees, you adapted as the temperature outside got
higher. You learned how to get a breeze through your house when it worked
to your advantage, you kept the windows closed for a time because the coolness
of the night was still trapped inside. But your body knew things were
getting warmer, because, well, it had been doing so in the weeks leading up to a
hot spell, it didn’t have the benefit of getting out of the heat for most of the
day, and you adapted. And if you were older, your kids probably lived
nearby. Nearby so much that they, or at least your grandkids, stopped by
to say "Hi Grandma!" at least once a day. And when they did, and Grandma
didn’t have her fan on, they would say, as kids are want to say, "Grandma, can
we put on the fan?" And when they also came over Grandma would offer them
something to drink, probably lemonade, and you know what, Grandma would have
one, too. Getting the elderly to put on a fan and have something extra to
drink were done because we were close enough to visit. Everyday.
also probably knew your neighbors because, in a worst case scenario, at the end
of the day, when it was cooler outside of the house rather than inside the
house, you went outside, and constantly reunited with your neighbors. And
back then, neighbors always being nosey yet still being friendly, they would
wonder why "Mrs. Thompson" hasn’t come out of her house yet, and would actually
go over to her house, knock on the door, and politely ask, in that nosey kind of
way "Emma, are you all right in there?" If Emma didn’t answer, well, her
door wasn’t locked, and they might find her crying in the kitchen because her
husband…, well, in any case, they would get her outside of the house, into the
cooler night air, and not to get her out of the stifling hot house, but to just
get her out of the house.
This is how I, a Dude who doesn’t know life without
air conditioning, sort of sees how lots of people in your city didn’t die
because of the heat, because, back then, I bet it wasn’t news that told you to
keep cool. You just learned to adapt, and you either had children or
grandkids close enough to visit, or at least neighbors who cared to do the same.
And you always had some lemonade and stoop to sit on in some cooler night air.
And as much as I like to think of those simpler times, thank you Willis Carrier,
because it was 100 degrees here outside the dude-pad today, but inside it was
nicely in the 70’s. And I even picked up some lemonade at the grocery
store because, well, it’s summer, and what is summer without lemonade? And
you know what, maybe I should get to know my neighbors?
That’s it for this one! I’m The Dude on the Right!! L8R!!!