February 03, 2021

We got the call Monday that the parts had arrived for our furnace install and workers would be out to install the new units on Tuesday.  They asked us to prepare the space so they would have the room necessary to work.  I moved the items we usually stored below the elevated furnace door to allow access.  When they texted saying they were on their way Melissa moved our vehicles to provide room for them to bring the unit into the garage.  We are a three-car family.  My Wrangler is the main traveling car while Melissa’s Outback is her work car and our secondary vehicle.   We also have our fun car, the SLK convertible.  This is an older vehicle but still great to drive on sunny days.  Melissa moved two of the cars onto the street but parked the SLK on the front lawn.

I found two explanations online for why people park or keep cars on their lawns.  The first concerned people who found an old car at a “heck of a deal,” bought it, put it up on blocks, and have not yet (if ever?) finished the project.  This happens more in rural areas as more space is available to park.  Suburban lawns have another phenomenon where there is not enough parking space on the street for all the family’s cars.  This seems especially true when you own several large trucks, as is the case in our neighborhood.  Trucks are easier to maneuver on unpaved surfaces and seem to end up on the lawn.  I joked with Melissa that now we were finally fitting into the neighborhood.

It was exactly one week ago that our furnace decided to quit.  As luck would have it, this week also marked the coldest stretch of temperature this winter.  We really cannot complain.  We bundled up and allowed the house’s insulation to protect us from much of the cold.  After we contracted to have a new furnace and heat pump installed the company brought out two space heaters for us to use.  Melissa has been working from her chair in the living room and I join her after I am done in my office.  That meant we were able to concentrate the heater (or both) in one room during the evening when the drop in temperature was most acute.  I have been humbled thinking about our lack of heat and knowing there are great numbers of people in our country who live this way daily.  They have no hope for an impending furnace.

Thoughts:  Jeff Foxworthy has based his career telling stories about what he calls his “red-neck family.”   His on-liner goes, “You might be a red-neck if . . .”  Living in small towns and rural areas in the Midwest I have appreciated his humor as I resonate with many of his observations.  Since we parked the Mercedes rather than the pickup on the lawn, I wondered if this meant we were instead blue-necks.  One aspect clearly delineated by the pandemic is the growing divide between different economic groups.  Many of our essential workers lost jobs, health insurance, and have struggle to put food on the table.  At the other end of the spectrum there has been an increase in income and overall wealth.  My week without heat forced me to be empathetic to (or at least acknowledge) the ravages of economic inequality.  We all need to learn these lessons.  Do the work.  Change is coming and it starts with you.

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