Tuesday, October 31, 2006

A Hot Time in the Old House Tonight!

It's here! It's here! The new gas furnace is here! Wonderful, glorious heat can once again pour through our home! My days as a rustic pioneer woman are over! No more electric blankets! No more running swiftly over the tiled bathroom floors! The ways of modern technology are back and we are ever grateful.

Well. Most of us are ever grateful.

I am. I am ever grateful. I was happy to walk into my home and embrace the warmth. I skipped joyfully through the house and found myself standing before the thermostat. The new thermostat. I blinked. It had not dawned on me that there would be a new thermostat. It makes sense. You get a new system... you get a new means of running said system. Our old thermostat was beige with some gold trim. Once upon a time, the thermostat was green. This happened the year that my mother painted our hallway an unusual shade of aqua green. She painted the entire hallway this color.

When I say entire... I mean ENTIRE. She painted the outlet covers. The light switch covers. The chimes for the door bell. The grate over the intake screen. And last, but not least, the thermostat. That was probably the beginning of the demise of our heating system... but I don't have any scientific facts to back up that claim.

So. I stood there and marveled at the new thermostat and instantly went numb with dread. Our new thermostat is digital. DI-GI-TAL. There are no knobs to turn. There are no levers to slide. There is not a simple on and off button. Nope. Digital. I lowered my head to my hands and sighed.

They were never going to be able to operate the new thermostat. My parents. My loving and wonderful and giving parents. They can't figure out how to turn on the television. How in the world will they operate a digital thermostat?

In two very separate ways. My father simply instructed the men who were doing the installation to set it at his desired temperature, and probably never planned to touch it again. He was comfortable, so the world must be comfortable too.

Too bad he wasn't at home when Mom came in from work.

She was not comfortable. She was cold. She came in the back door and wanted to head straight up into the attic to see the new furnace. She was not that impressed. "It doesn't look that much smaller." She went on to worry about the fact that she can no longer see the pilot light.

"What is the problem?"

"I can't see the pilot light. I want to be able to come up here and watch the pilot light."

"Watch the pilot light do what?"



Once I realized her dismay over the diminishment of our own version of the Eternal Flame, I hated to see her reaction to the new thermostat. I was not disappointed.

"Well, *#(@(!*~$"

"What's wrong?"

"Where's my thermostat? Why did they change the thermostat? There was nothing wrong with the old one. I hate this one. I don't know how to operate it..." begins randomly pushing buttons.

As I hear the heat come on and then go off again I say, "I'm sure there's a book that will tell you how to set the temperature."

"I don't want a book. I want my thermostat. Where is your father?"

"Getting dinner."

It was about this time that my father arrived, arms loaded down with sustenance for his family from Ruby Tuesday's... Great White Hunter that he is... when my mother began.

"Why did they change the thermostat?"

"We got a new system. It came with the new system."

"I don't like it. I want the old one back."

"It's fine. They left a book. You'll read it. You'll figure it out."

"I don't want to figure it out. I want heat. The heat isn't working."

"Of course the heat is working."

"It is not."

"It is so."

"Is not."

"Is too."

And just that quickly, my parents shed 70 years and became arguing toddlers. After a break, my father said, "You don't have to worry about it. They set the thermostat before they left. You don't have to touch anything."

"I already did. I pushed the buttons."

"Why? What made you do that."

"It's cold in here." "It is not." "It is too." (I think you get the picture)

Finally I suppose my mother read something, because she made the heat come on. The problem is, I don't think it went off ALL NIGHT LONG. At midnight I woke up in my bedroom, that had been magically transformed into a sauna. I didn't dare touch the thermostat... I just kicked off all the sheets on my bed and went back to sleep.

We're still arguing about the heat here... but I am ever grateful.

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