The exact beginning of our friendship is unclear. I think we met at a neighborhood garage sale and bonded over gardening. However it happened, our friendship was an instant connection. Her name is Hope.
One lazy Sunday afternoon, Reese and I were walking around Rice, and curiously, we saw an older gentleman standing in the pathway awaiting our arrival in the distance. After pleasantries, he joined us for the rest of our walk. Derek turned out to be a delightful conversationalist, and another instant friendship formed. By the end of our walk, I had put two and two together, and figured out that Hope and Derek are married.
Well, our dear friends Hope and Derek moved to Austin a few years ago, and consequently the opportunities for random or planned get togethers were greatly diminished.
One night last week, Hope and Derek dropped in for an impromptu visit, (they were in town for medical reasons) and stayed for supper -- a perfectly cooked, fall off the bones, delicious coq au vin. Because the downstairs air conditioner was broken, we ate alfresco, and were especially pleased that it was such a pleasant evening.
In turn, they invited us for supper the following night. Now, I'm not one to answer the phone during a meal with friends, but after three phone calls and one text message in rapid succession, I thought it prudent to answer the phone.
The air conditioner had been slowly dying for a few years. Our a/c guy had been injecting it with the a/c version of steroids -- freon-- for several summers in a row. Every year he would say the same thing, "We need to replace this unit." And I'd say, "How long do you think it will last? Can't we just dose it up with freon?" A dose of freon is a fraction of the cost of replacing an entire three ton unit, so he very graciously complied...until this year. This year, the a/c wasn't just mostly dead, it was all dead. No amount of freon could revive it. And the discounted price for a new unit would be $2500. For some gentle readers this might not seem like a lot of money, but for us it was an insurmountable sum.
In Malcolm Gladwell's book, The Tipping Point, he describes a social network of people called connectors and mavens; people who easily assimilate and willingly distribute information that will be helpful to others. I know a few of these people, and called Bill for a/c advice. Bill passed along the number for Ivan. Ivan's first language is NOT English, so I was uncertain whether or not I had properly conveyed that we wanted to buy a used (or quite possible an used -- the inter web verdict is still out on this one) a/c. I'm pretty sure that Ivan said he had a Jork and would stop by the house the following afternoon at four. Four came and went and no Ivan.
At 8:30pm, the phone calls that interrupted our night out with Hope and Derek were from sweet neighbors trying to contact us because Ivan was at the house with an old York 3 ton a/c unit -- ready to install. This "new" eight year old York air conditioner is more energy efficient, quieter, and is all around a better system than we had before. Houston's heat and humidity skyrocketed the very next day, but graciously, we were spared the heat. It's wonderful and cool inside.
The new old Jork was less than one tenth of the discounted price of a new unit. God bless Ivan.
God bless our dear friends, Hope and Derek, too.