Obligations

There are things one is supposed to do.

Sometimes for moral reasons (Don’t lie, Don’t cheat), other times for less noble or lofty reasons.

Taking out the garbage, for instance. This should be done with some regularity, no matter how disagreeable or oppressive the chore. It’s both sensible and improves air quality.

Household maintenance is code for a long, long (possibly unending) list of obligations few recognize prior to ownership and many shirk afterwards.

Exterior painting should occur every five to seven years. Unless you don’t feel like it, or you prefer vinyl siding. Another alternative is Brutalist style poured concrete. A bit severe in appearance, it is also costly and won’t endear you to neighbors.

Furnace cleaning is another obligation; one, we’re advised by none other than those firms providing the service, that should occur annually.

Previously, I adhered to that 11th Commandment, hung around all day waiting for the HVAC technician to appear, hovered over him as he did what he was being paid to do, and then wrote a check.

What does the HVAC expert do? Take measurements of some sort on the heat pump? No. Investigate the furnace’s efficiency and provide a set of dazzling statistics that, ostensibly, reveal all the secrets and predict the coziness to come in Winter months? No.

What the HVAC expert does is vacuum. And very, very small spaces, mind you.

As it happens, I am an expert at vacuuming. It may be the thing I do best.

And I have all the right, professional tools. An upright model (matching my morals) to shove around, all while taking great care to keep the lines in the carpet perfectly parallel.

As well, I own a “house vac.” Not really sure what the correct name for it is (maybe “central”), but I plug a hose into the wall and, viola!, suction. Very bourgeois, I know.

Not long ago, the house vac’s motor broke. After only 35 years. If you can believe that.

Heartbroken, I let it sit idle for a week. OK, maybe two, possibly three, more likely a month. Surprisingly, it did not heal itself in the interim, as appliances sometimes do.

Unbolting the motor from the wall, a trip to the repair shop and 80 bucks later, Viola!, the sucking resumed. (I know, there’s an off-color joke not-so-deeply embedded in there.)

Well, what does this all mean? Plainly, it means I’m going into the HVAC business. My mother was correct, as usual: good to have a back-up skill.

Obligation becomes opportunity as a new profession and professional is launched.

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