Our air-conditioner guy just died last week.
Barely knew the guy. But the time my mother broke the news, I almost choked by the piece of crab leg I was struggling to eat. She said he died of heart attack while jogging.
I could only say “but why?” We call him Mr. Frankie, because..it’s his name. And sadly just about the only thing we knew of him.
About a month earlier, my air-con wouldn’t breathe even the smallest amount of breeze.
I was frustrated to sweat, having been heat-intolerant since long time ago, as I went to college in a town only God and the weatherman knows exactly how hot and humid. I shriveled, I sniffled, I itched than I scratched, I frizzled like mad, and mostly I become grumpy like a grouch. I got an acute emotional breakdown every time I can’t control the heat and sweat. People can say it’s only in my head, but I know I got some kind of skin allergy that involves heat. Because of this, my AC has become my fountain of youth, my quench to my thirst, and my source of consolation.
Anyway, two days after my mother called Mr. Frankie, he came to rescue my air-con. He came, as always, with a tall, bony long-haired sidekick. They always come together for as long as I can remember. He did what he did with the compressors, the noisy hose, and several other things I never really put any attention to.
For as I know, he always finished with calling me to see the AC with the remote in his hand and a wide smile, very proud of what he’d done with the AC. I always marveled the work but still took for granted, the instantly icy room of mine.
But that particular day I got my room changed a bit. My sister made some sort of mini-mezzanine area in my room. So now I have an almost empty ‘1st floor’ which doubles as a walking closet and space for me to do just about everything (mostly sitting on the floor watching movies on my laptop), and put my bed on the attic-like ‘second floor’ instead. This change, Mr. Frankie noticed when he was fixing my AC. When he’d finished with it, he asked me about the attic thing. He said that it was actually a good idea, and he seriously might make one too back home. This fascinated me a lot when I was growing up, to inspire people–no matter how trivial the idea is– that are older than you. Something I have only done one other time in my life, but that’s a whole different story. It is also the fact that the interior change that my sister helped me bring to my room started a lot of controversies in my house. My father hated it and was going to tear it down instantly. He really was going to, until my mom said that I had put everything up and it’d be a mess to shoo me away. But the real reason was that he never really says no to my sister.
The time Mr.Frankie showed me how he’d fixed my AC, I was struggling to my father’s agitation that the room was ‘ugly!’. I had been asking it to myself “is it really that ugly? is it not? ugly? but my sister is the designer, not my dad?!” Then he actually said that the room was a good solution for minimum space.
This just suddenly calms me down, like a subtle pat on the back from a stranger that in a right time can mean so much.
I had never actually spoken with Mr. Frankie before, outside air-cooling business, so he was technically a stranger to me. A stranger that was in one voice with me, against the tirade of my father. I felt like a martyr a the time. If I had known that would be the last conversation we’d ever have, i would have said more. Something as small as ‘Thank You’. The time my mother gave me the news, his sidekick was walking up and down the house dragging his old but reliable compressor thingy and buckets of water. I looked at him blankly (I must have scared him, as he paced up a bit).
I couldn’t believe he was alone. It’s as if Mr. Frankie was in other room talking to my mother about which other AC was going kaputt. I am a kid that (thankfully) hasn’t seen a lot of people close to me pass on.
so, yeah, Mr. Frankie suddenly leaving was not a great day for me. And from that day on, I’ll never take my AC (or anyone) for granted ever again.