By Dave Twombly

When you live on the 3rd floor of a triple decker and have the remarkable ability to perspire at the drop of a hat, air conditioners become your best, and most important, ally. It’s with this in mind that in late May of every year I go through the ritual of hauling out our air conditioners and placing them strategically throughout our apartment.

This year with a little one in a middle bedroom that doesn’t get much airflow we upped our AC quotient to 3 units, so she could have one in her bedroom. (This made me very happy as I’ve taken Herbert Hoover’s ‘chicken in every pot’ slogan to mean ‘an air conditioner in every room’.)  Upping the ante worked like a dream and we spent an incredibly hot summer largely cool and sweat free.

When the weather, mercifully, cools my wife and I get into the annual debate about when to put the air conditioners into hibernation for the winter.  Her stance is always “now” and mine is always “never” as I fear that one last blast of heat and humidity that invariably happens every fall (no commentary on global warming here).

Last week we were experiencing a lovely cool evening when it started to rain.  As we were getting ready to turn in for the evening I went around closing windows (something I’m usually reminded to do when being woken up in the middle of the night as rain drops splash on my head) in what I deemed a brilliant and thoughtful pre-emptive strike.  My brilliance was soon proved non-existent.

As I closed what I thought was the top of a window above one of the AC units, I noticed something odd happening.  In a split second, the AC unit in the window was no longer there.  While I’d like to claim this was just a scientific experiment to answer the age old question “Can air conditioners fly?” it was nothing like that. Three stories later I had a smashed air conditioner, a startled neighbor and crying baby in the house next door whom I had awakened (sorry parents!).

Fortunately it had landed in the driveway an nobody was there (this was at 11:30 pm). Even more fortunately my neighbors don’t have a car or this would have been a very expensive mistake.

Now the educational part.  What do you with a broken air conditioner (or other large appliance)?  Chances are your neighborhood sanitation truck will not pick it up (tried that) on trash night.  If you aren’t interested in hauling it away to a dump yourself (or simply cannot do it physically) call your local Department of Public Works.  For a small fee ($25 in Cambridge) you’ll get a removal sticker (you can fill out a form online to get one), you can leave it on the curb and they will come haul it away for you.

The moral of the story is that central air conditioning isn’t only a great option to keep your home uniformly cool, it can also save lives.  That will be my argument for getting it one day soon.

Safety first, my dear readers.