75 degrees, 6%

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I guess I've become soft. Due to another driver in front of me rudely not permitting adequate space for my own vehicle's stopping distance, my car got slightly dinged, and, more importantly, my air-conditioner lost its refrigerant.

Now, I can eat a grape jelly sandwich without peanut butter. I know, I know. This threatens my acceptance amongst civilized people, and I'm not saying that I want to do that. But I can if I must. But as much as peanut butter and jelly are necessarily conjoined, an air conditioner without refrigerant is like a television without electricity. It's all or nothing.

I've mentioned previously my fondness for my 28 mile, 1-1.5 hour commute. When I'm not listening to Frank Sinatra, I sometimes think of strange things to do while sitting in non-rushing traffic. Kids travel games are not beyond me. I can usually spot license plates from at least 7 southeastern States on a given day. I can attempt to find store names beginning with letters A-Z. Thank you, Zaxby's! (and we need more X words...)

Or I might count a ratio between Ford, Chevy, and Dodge pickup trucks. Why would one do such a thing? Once, going to Birmingham, AL the Monday after a NASCAR race at Talladega, the highway became unexpectedly full of campers being pulled by pickup trucks (presumably with sober drivers).

I don't follow NASCAR, but I know brand loyalty is a big deal. Chevy, by the way, gets about 55%, Ford 35%, and Dodge 10%. I guess those HEMI engines cost too much. The same percentages hold true during my commute, though Toyota, Nissan, and other foreign brands that risk defacement at a NASCAR event intrude on the percentages somewhat.

You're probably thinking these types of amusements are in some way related to the reason for my ill-fated air-conditioner. Not true. I only conduct these professional studies when stopped (parked?) at one of many red lights or otherwise stuck in the road for unknown and usually undiscovered reasons. Despite the current state of political discourse and other indications to the contrary, we seem to trust in "the system" when it comes to waiting our turn in traffic. So, I trust, and I take a survey - not all the time, but even Frank Sinatra deserves a day or two off.

While I'll subscribe that global warming might have increased the local temperature 0.001 degree (After all, it's the summer and the South), I'm sure it was basically just as hot when I was growing up as it is today. July heat has always been July heat. I remember riding in the back seat of a station wagon with the windows down (and without a seat belt...who would guess today that I was a child of such reckless forethought?) and those fondly remembered vinyl seats... the kind that you peel your bare back or thighs off of as you exit the vehicle. But sweating was nothing unusual, or, as I remember, anything particularly uncomfortable.

Today, I can break a sweat thinking about mowing the lawn. Well, okay. Maybe not. But I can on a particularly humid day when going to the mailbox. That's sad!

It should be noted that I, um, wisely chose a black vehicle for the extra heat it would provide in the winter, which is, of course, much more beneficial than any possible discomfort that might result from the heat that hangs over Georgia 46 of 52 weeks each year.

Never accept a conclusion without first examining the assumptions. This could be a true thought if the A/C has its refrigerant and is blowing at the driver those 46 weeks. Bend to my logic.

So, it's 8:00 a.m., sitting in traffic (again), 75 degrees. Nice and cool, right? Well, even with windows down, there's rarely a breeze when the traffic isn't moving. The rising sun is doing its job of keeping the earth warmer than the void of space, and it's doing particulary well at localizing it's abundant gift within my car. I'm sweating, and on my way to work. Not good.

What's one to do when stuck in traffic and feeling miserable for one's self? Take a survey!

Despite the general advancement of our society's expectation of comfort, and specifically within our beloved automobiles (how many vehicles are decided against based on the placement and sizing of cup holders?), the results confirm that even in this modern age, people do actually drive with their windows down. Stunning, I know.

From 50 vehicles at two intersections, it works out to 30% with open driver windows. Given the price of gas and the presumed efficiency savings of selecting ambient air, I thought, "wow, people are really hurting. I'm miserably hot, and a fair number are making the sacrifice."

But my keen powers of observation suggest that driving with the windows down is more intentional than, as in my case, compulsory. In a gesture to "always test the assumptions," of the 15 vehicles with windows down, there were none that suggested the driver's economic state was one that prevented a repair. So we move on to what else might be observed.

7 vehicles - pickup trucks with signs indicating construction or other trades. In other words, these are our most climate-hardened citizens that admit it pointless in aiming for a sweat-less day. To be fair, they generally have the cooler of Gatorade on the back of the truck. Bless them.

5 vehicles - drivers somehow missed the Surgeon General's warning label on their pack of cigarettes. The smoke is good enough for their lungs, but not good enough for their cars. I would say, "bless them," but with my windows down, I also was partaking of their pleasure. I respect their right, but I miss my cloistered air supply system all the more.

That leaves 3 vehicles (6% for you statisticians), that drive with their windows down either because they like it or as a concession to the economics of today.

75 degrees. 6%.

I know this reads like I'm a whiner, and I admitted at the beginning that I'm soft. But I'm not alone. I hesitate to think what the price of gasoline would have to be for America to really feel the pinch. Overall, we're a well insulated society and blessed.

Oh, and did I mention how LOUD cars are when the windows are down? Gimme my A/C!

1 comment :

  1. HAHAHAHAH! Great blog... I am glad you are ok with the accident... what an orDEAL! We needed the rain though :P