Monday, August 1, 2011

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WHAT ABOUT THAT QUIRKY QUANDARY , Dear Reader? It's about time I tell you the story,
or you'll plumb forget all about the problem of the dying air conditioner and tenants of mine about to move in, and the hot, hot weather and the...well, I'll start from the beginning:

I'll do my best, Reader Dear, to be brief:

The air conditioner quit working in an apartment that I was cleaning, preparing for tenants who planned to move in two days later. I rushed home to research online, and heaved a great sigh when I saw I could order--through Home Depot--a model that looked to be the right size (based on my tape-measured findings) to fit in the wall opening where the now-defunct air conditioner resided.

I rushed to Home Depot and ordered the thing. Simple as that may sound, it took almost a full hour. Christine, the young woman assisting me had never done an online order, but she was sweet, and attempted to answer all of my questions (though many consultations or phone calls ensued before she could give me a response).

How soon can I get it? (Two days)
How much is the cost? (Six-hundred and eighty-nine dollars, plus tax. No wait, it's a special price. The sale ends today. Six-hundred and twenty-nine dollars, plus tax!)
What is the delivery charge? (It's free delivery!)
Excellent, and do you install? (Yes, it's a major appliance. Free delivery and free installation. We take away the old one, too.)
Wow. Wonderful! You install?!! (Yes, we deliver and install. And we take away the old one!)
What if it's not the right size? (Don't worry, you don't sign off on it until it's installed, and the old one is taken away).
And what if I have to return it? (You can't return it, because it's ordered online)
HO-O-LD EVERYTHING! I CAN'T RETURN IT?! ([lengthy consultation] You can return it to us, but we charge a ten percent re-stocking fee.)
So I can have this by Friday, delivered and installed? (Yes, you will get a call with the four-hour window of time when it will arrive. Then you'll get another call thirty minutes before the truck gets to you.)

When all was said and done, I had ordered three of the cooling machines! Why not? I asked myself. I've got fourteen other ancient air conditioners, chugging out cold air to beat the band. They're getting so old, they're working so hard in this heat! Surely they'll be dropping like flies. Now, while the price is reduced and with free installation (!), I'll order some extra units.

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Skipping right ahead (though the weather was much too warm for that kind of activity), it's Friday morning. I'm not going to say one more time how hard I'd been working! But I was feeling good--both the empty apartments were getting close to completion; both would be getting new air conditioners; the truck bearing the lovely appliances would arrive between nine o'clock and one o'clock. It was eleven o'clock when my cell phone rang. Ah, perfect, thirty minutes to go! I kept on cleaning the oven, with an eye toward the parking lot.

When the truck pulled in, I rushed down to meet the deliverymen. "Hi, I'm Carl, and my helper is Chris," said the first man out of the truck.

"Nice to meet you," I said. "And I'm Qathy. Sounds like we could be triplets--Carl and Chris and Qathy." (Heh. He laughed at the ludicrousness of such an idea--we being so different in age, race, and gender.)

These two were friendly and efficient. "We've been working together a long time," they said. They quickly trundled the three air conditioners onto a dolly and wheeled them around the building to the door where I directed. "Is this where you want us to put them?" Carl asked.

"Yes," I responded. "The first one will go here where the air condition quit. The opening is window height. In the other two apartments, the opening is high on the wall."

"Well, you know we don't install," said Carl.
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Calamity, Dear Reader, can fall from the sky without warning, like hailstones on a hot summer day!
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"YOU DON'T INSTALL?" I didn't shout the question, but I asked it with distinctly heightened intensity. "But, you have to! The woman at Home Depot ASSURED me that you would! She said you would install and take the old ones away. She told me I don't sign off on the units until they're installed!"

"Sorry," said Carl. "We only install free-standing appliances. Even if it's a microwave that fits into a cabinet, we don't install it. Only free-standing stuff. We never install air conditioners!"

"But....what am I supposed to do?!" I wailed. (Well, I didn't actually wail out loud, but I sure was keening inside.) "I've got tenants moving in in a few short hours. They're the daughters of a U.S. senator! We're in the middle of a heat wave!"

"Don't you have a handyman?" Chris asked.

"No," I answered. "And I can't get anyone on a Friday afternoon with such short notice. Are you SURE you can't do it? The woman at Home Depot TOLD me you'd install."

"We can't install," Carl said for about the third time. "Why don't you call Home Depot?"

I took his suggestion and made the call. I asked for Christine. "Do you remember me?" I asked the girl who came on the line. "I was in on Wednesday and ordered three air conditioners. We spent a long time together." I was sure she'd remember!

"No," she said. "I don't think I do."

"Are you Christine?" I asked.

"No," she said. "I'm Christa. We have a Christa and a Christy and a Christine who work here."

"Ha! We could be quintuplets!" I said....(Wait, wait, Dear Reader; I fear I'm veering into fiction!)
"I'll bet that's fun." (Those are my actual words) "Could I PLEASE speak with CHRISTINE?"

"Oh, she's not in today," Christa said cheerfully. "She'll be in tomorrow."
I hung up.

"What can I DO?!" I moaned.

"You can refuse delivery," said Carl for about the third time. "We can take them back. You could order another day."

"No, no," I said. "I need at least one of them today! It's much too hot to be without one." (I said for about the fourth time.)

"I don't know," said Carl. "What do you want us to do? We're on a schedule. We can put them somewhere. You could get someone to install them later."

"But they might not FIT!" I protested. "I'd have to return them, and pay the restocking fee. And I'd STILL be without an air conditioner for my brand-new tenants!"

The sun was shining hotly on our heads. These two men were waiting patiently for my decision.
Time was ticking by. What to do? What to do?! I was in a stew! *

(*Better known to you, Dear Reader, as my quirky quandary.
Alas, also well know to you by now--my old trick of keeping you waiting!)
To be continued....

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