I recently tuned into “The Men Who Built America” on The History Channel, erroneously thinking I’d be seeing more film clips of the scaffolding on the Hoover Dam and men crawling like ants over the George Washington Bridge. Instead I found myself watching rich men fighting with other rich men in order to amass more money than they could ever spend in twelve lifetimes. Actually it was fascinating.
The part about JP Morgan ousting Edison; taking over Westinghouse and turning it into General Electric was intriguing. (Did I get that right?) That’s because I’ve been without heat or an oven for the greater part of two weeks. The behemoth electric furnace in my basement was consuming 100 amps of my 200 amp breaker, and even while running constantly it never got near 70 degrees in here.
But two days ago a local contractor installed the heating half of my new Carrier system, right on the heels of that exploded home in Indianapolis. I’ve been reassured that new furnaces have “igniters” and not “pilot lights” but that didn’t stop me from smelling gas all night, even while dreamily appreciating the warmth of the stinky air around me. I kept going downstairs to check on the unit, and could find nothing; not even the gas smell down there though “down there” is very uninsulated and old-house drafty.
By morning the men had arrived and fixed the small leak that ruined my sleep. And by noon I had my new Samsung gas/convection oven, all happily winking at me with its little blue flames.
Being without just these two things for two weeks had me thinking about the inventors and entrepreneurs who made our lives what they are today. I wonder how I would cope if the power ever went out permanently? I realize I’m not just appreciative of electricity, gas, electronics, and modern-day conveniences, I am addicted. Going without is nerve-wracking and anxiety-producing. Even if the bastions of industry were colossal jerks, my hat’s off to them. I imagine I am like you reading this on your computer. We’re 21st-century folk.