When all else fails, try a little bit of luck

We all know that winter brings a lot of changes: the weather,
the food, the footwear and all that. But I say the biggest jolt is
the changing of the climate control system.
We all know that winter brings a lot of changes: the weather, the food, the footwear and all that. But I say the biggest jolt is the changing of the climate control system. It seems the very second I fully understand the mysterious inner-workings of the air conditioner, winter arrives and what tenuous knowledge I had suddenly becomes obsolete.

Sure, in theory, working the central heating system should be easy. If you get a yearning for some heat, you just reach up and move the power switch to “on” and viola! Within minutes, the ice in the cat’s water dish thaws and your living room feels like a beach in South Florida.

But wait. That’s what I used to think, too, until my husband installed a new automatic thermostat. Now this may sound like a nice sensible thing to do. And it is. Except that apparently, in the world of heating systems, there are two kinds of “automatic” systems: 1) Those that function effectively without human intervention. 2) Those that function sporadically and only when darn good and ready.

Bet you can’t guess what kind we have.

Now, granted, things might be different if I was the kind of person who could pay attention during oral instruction. And, really, it’s not like my husband didn’t try. The day he installed it, he called me over and began pointing vigorously while tossing around all sorts of mysterious words like “mode” and “therms” and “set points.” Then he said something that went like, “You press the red button on the top for heat, and the blue one on the bottom for the blower. Then enter the set back times by pressing the purple button on the side while holding down the green knob and holding your breath and clapping three times. Got it?”

By that time my mind has slipped away to thinking about more important issues like, say, what color shoes would go with a navy blue skirt? Will the mullet hairstyle ever come back? And who really believes that orange is the new pink?

It’s not like I’m stupid. It’s just that I don’t want lengthy explanations or seminars on how to work stuff. I prefer getting the end result by using, well, luck.

In my defense, it’s not just me who thinks this way.

My neighbor Shirley, a highly educated person, sets her automatic sprinkler system by turning every knob until water starts shooting out onto the lawn.

And every time my friend Carol wants to program the VCR she starts randomly punching buttons until either the whole thing freezes up in shock or her nine-year-old son feels sorry for her and wanders over to help.

Oh sure, some people might chalk it all up to being lazy. But I say the real reason is storage space. You see, I’ve always believed that the brain can only hold so much information at once. So it makes sense that in order to get new information in, old information must be squeezed out. And I ask you, who wants to replace the memory of latest episode of “Survivor” with, say, the directions on how to change the message on an answering machine?

So, that said, as far as the new automatic thermostat goes, I’ve developed my own, one-step method of getting heat: press the “On” button down firmly and then say in my best I’m-in-charge kind of tone, “Start now or ELSE.”

Then I go put on a sweater and wait for spring.

Debbie Farmer’s column appears every Monday.