We’re in the middle of a heat wave. It’s all over the news and not just the local news. I tuned to the BBC world news last night in a vain attempt to get away from all heat wave all the time reporting. In a perfect blue suit with his perfect British accent, the anchor devoted nearly four minutes of a twenty-eight minute broadcast to the heat in the Western US.
It’s just heat. It’s going to last four days, or so they forecast. If we were on the fourteenth day, I would agree, it would be newsworthy. Until then the weather is not news, it’s weather. Hurricanes, tornados, floods – those are newsworthy weather stories. People do not lose homes because of the heat. Neighborhoods are not flattened by heat. The visuals that accompanied the heat wave news stories are elephants being fed frozen melons, children in front of mist fans and reporters wiping the sweat off their foreheads. Wow! Glad I didn’t miss that!
A few years ago finances were particularly tight as I paid for my daughter’s college tuition. Our AC died. We brought in a repair person who pronounced the unit dead and oh, by the way, this was the wrong size unit for your house. It was about half the size of the unit we should have had. The cost to replace the wrong unit $4500.00. To replace it with the correct unit, $6500.00. We didn’t have that money just lying around in a rainy day fund so we decided to go a year without AC to see if we could manage.
We already had ceiling fans in every room. One room, the family room on the bottom floor of the house, normally stayed quite cool. I found two queen size blow up mattresses at the Salvation Army store. We survived, sometime just barely, using fans and sleeping downstairs in the “cool” room when the mercury shot up. Except for a few rare nights, no matter how hot it was during the day, it would cool off by about 20 degrees at night.
There were advantages to no AC. Instead of closing the windows and drawing the shades to hole up inside our air-conditioned home, when it got too hot we loaded into our car and went in search of cool. We took the metro out to the ocean. We found refuge in the shade of the local parks. We spent time with friends. We went to movies. We took advantage of the public library.
Sure, when the mercury tops 100, it is nice to be able to turn on the AC and be comfortable at home but a heat wave is not the end of the world and I wish the news desks would stop reporting on it as if it was.