What Heat Wave?

It’s a time in my life I may never forget.

It was this past February during a record cold spell. You remember that right? The temperature barely got out of the teens for about a week. And at night, much worse. The temps hovered around zero and more often than not, would fall below when the wind picked up during the night. People stayed in. No one wanted to leave their houses. Bars and movie theaters remained empty as people wisely chose to hunker down at home rather than make the short walk from their front door to their car. I was no different.

It was a Saturday. Shortly before 7 p.m. I checked the gauge on the oil tank. It was less than a quarter. When I checked early that morning it had been just under half. I had blown through a quarter tank of oil in less than a day. But that wasn’t the scary thing. The worst part of this was what lay ahead. There was no way the oil would last through the night when the temps were colder.

I called Dad and explained the situation. We put our money together and started making calls. It wasn’t long before reality set in. It was the weekend and no oil man wanted to come out in the freakish cold. The few who actually answered the weekend emergency line wanted to rape us for oil. $2.49 a gallon. 100 gallon minimum, plus a $125 emergency delivery fee. We didn’t have the money. Dad was retired and I was a broke journalist.

A glimmer of hope came from one oil man who called us back after we left a message on the ER hotline. He seemed a bit drunk so I wasn’t sure how much stock to put into his advice but we were desperate. He told us to go to the gas station and fill up a portable gas can with diesel fuel. He said that should do the trick till monday when the fees come down and oil companies are actually open all day. Hmm. Well, after 10 minutes of internet research Dad and I were on our way.

Our first stop was the garage. Luckily we found a five gallon gas can. We didn’t bother washing it out. It cost $15 to fill it.

The memory of my father and I filling our oil tank with Diesel fuel will be with me forever. It was blustery cold and dark. The wind stung as it whipped against our faces. It took both of us to dump the fuel into the oil spout: One to hold the can and one to steady the  funnel. Smelly fuel splashed about recklessly, covering our clothes and the ground below. Andy barked inside – a mixture of curiosity and worry.

All in all we made three trips to the gas station and back. Then three more the next day. We spent the last of our cash on the actual oil delivery Monday morning. I almost cried when I was awoken at 7 a.m. that day by the rumbling truck on the side of the house. I would find out later that dad had begun making calls to oil companies at 6 a.m. I was broke, I still smelled of gas but I was warm…..

Much has changed since February. The big money sucker of a house is long gone. I’m a bit more comfortable now, both financially and in my living quarters. Andy, who was more than just a dog but a true companion during those months seems happier now too, with his own porch and doggie friends downstairs.

 I stepped out of my apartment both yesterday and today, sweating before I completed the 20 foot walk to my car, stopping only to glance at the thermometer hanging on the fence.  85 degrees at 9 a.m.

I may be in the minority here but believe me when I say it:  This record-breaking heat wave does not bother me. Not one god damn bit.


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