.... air-conditioning! I hate it. Granted, my circumstances are different from many others'. I live in a relatively cold climate. There are only one to two months out of the year that actually get uncomfortably warm, in my opinion. I am also aware that, for some people (the elderly, people with severe allergies, etc.), air-conditioning can be a necessity. Let me also make it clear that I don't enjoy summer. I love winter; -20˚ is pleasant to me, while anything over 80˚ is unpleasantly warm. Add in some humidity and it just gets ugly. One might think that a person who doesn't enjoy summer would like air-conditioning. Did I mention that I hate it? I think I did.
We don't have AC in our house. That means that, in warm weather, we have our windows open. Unfortunately for us, all of our neighbors do have AC. I like my neighbors, they're nice people, but the result is that, in order for our neighbors to enjoy their air-conditioned comfort, we have to listen to KKKKKRRRRNNNGGHHGHGHZHZHZHZHZNGHNGHNGHNGHGN for untold hours every day and I find myself getting pissed-off at people that I like. This sticks in my craw for a number of reasons.
First of all, they get to enjoy a nice, cool house and I have to listen to the noise that makes it possible for them to be comfortable. Noise pollution is one of the least recognized forms of pollution, but I believe it to be every bit as harmful as any other form of pollution (just think about those cars driving around BOOOMMM, BA-BOOOOM BOOOM!). At the very least, it seems to me that the people enjoying the benefits of an air-conditioned house should be the ones who have to listen to the absolutely totally obnoxious noise it creates. Did I mention that it's a horrible sounding noise? I think I did.
Secondly, it seems that once people turn on their AC, they don't turn it off until it's time to turn on the heat, even when they're on vacation. We have one neighbor (very nice people, by the way) who have already been gone for two weeks this summer and have left their air-conditioning on while they've been away. Two weeks of listening to KKKKKRRRRNNNGGHHGHGHZHZHZHZHZNGHNGHNGHNGHGN all day and all night when they're not even home! AARRRGHGHGH! As another example, about a week or two ago, the temperatures had been up in the 80s during the day, but down into the 50s at night for a couple of weeks. In that kind of weather, you open your windows at night and close them during the day and your house stays nice and comfortable. Heck, even if you leave your windows open during the day, if it's getting down to the 50s at night, your house doesn't get all that warm during the day and air-conditioning is just not necessary. While walking the dog one evening when the temperature was around 56˚, it made me feel angry at people whom I like to discover how many of them had their AC running when they could have turned it off, opened their windows and cooled their houses down faster than the AC was cooling it. And I have to listen to that vile sound. All day. All night. For no good reason. It's like having someone tapping you on the head with little tiny hammers for hours and days. It isn't excruciating pain in the short term, but over time it becomes sheer torture. Literally.
Thirdly, in this day and age of awareness of the shortage of petroleum, climate change, etc., it amazes me that so many people feel that air-conditioning is a god-given right or a necessity of life. Once again, people that I like and respect will point their fingers at drivers of SUVs, smokers, or whomever, but will never consider the possibility that using an air-conditioner is an ill-advised and irresponsible use of energy. "I can't live without air-conditioning" is a line I've heard all too many times. (The terrorists hate us for our freedom!) Many of these same people will complain about how they hate winter, yet most of them don't know what summer really means, because they don't live in it. Their houses are air-conditioned, their jobs are air-conditioned and their cars are air-conditioned. They have never lived in summer. I have never lived in an air-conditioned house. I haven't worked in an air-conditioned work-place since 1992, when I left retail. It's not that big of a deal. You just accept it and live in the environment. Hot, cold, whatever. Sure, when it's exceptionally warm you slow down. So what?
Fourthly, once upon a time, summer was a time when people pretty much lived outside. They went for walks, sat out on their porches or just plain hung out. Not anymore. When people air-condition their houses, they stay inside. So much for getting to know your neighbors or having any sense of community.
My experience has been that those people who don't have air conditioning at home or don't work in air-conditioning are the people who complain the least about weather in general. Farmers, carpenters and people in other similar professions don't complain much about winter. They don't complain much about summer. They just accept it and deal with it. If it gets too hot (or too cold) they accept the fact that they can't work that day. The whole "Southern Mystique" is based on a culture that has accepted hot weather. Nay, embraced hot weather. Buildings were designed with air-flow in mind. Lots of windows. Porches. The expectation that things would slow down in summer, and that it wasn't a bad thing. Now, everyone has to be productive all the time, regardless of environmental conditions. We rule the environment, after all, not the other way around.
I realize that most people aren't intentionally trying to irritate their neighbors. They're most likely not aware of how much noise they're pumping into their neighborhoods, the possibility that not all of their neighbors have air-conditioning and not thinking about how much energy they're consuming. But, to me, it's a giant "FUCK YOU! I want to be comfortable! Fuck you! Fuck the environment! Fuck! Fuck! Fuckfuckfuck!" (There goes my 0% Cuss-o-meter level, of which I was so proud.) And, yes, not having air-conditioning is a choice we made. We even had a major re-model done on our house a few years ago and decided against including air-conditioning, for a number of reasons, but we now have wonderful air circulation in our house. Still, it doesn't seem right to me that those of us who choose not to buy into the AC lifestyle should have to suffer so others can enjoy their climate-controlled comfort.
Things are going to have to change, and soon. Energy prices are going through the roof and I suspect it will only get worse. People will be forced to re-evaluate some of their lifestyle choices, whether they want to or not. Meanwhile, I guess I have to live with KKKKKRRRRNNNGGHHGHGHZHZHZHZHZNGHNGHNGHNGHGN all day, every day, from the beginning of June through the end of September (that's one third of my life that I have to listen to that hellacious noise!). Either that or I go on a rampage with my flame-thrower. Actually, I think I might enjoy that.