When you have your routine maintenance done, do you just open the door and let the technician do their job? Do you ever stop to think about what it’s like working as an HVAC technician?
In the spring, the marketing department selected Jen, their marketing writer, to go on a ride-along with a tech. As someone with an immense fear of spiders, attics, and tight spaces, everyone in the office thought she’d be the perfect candidate. From an outsider’s inside-look, Jen wrote a story to capture the experience.
Look the Part
I went on a ride-along with one of our HVAC technicians today. The managers even dressed me up like a tech. I’m not sure I’ve ever worn a shirt with a collar like this. It feels like a starchy turtleneck.
Everyone tells me I’ll have to go in an attic today, and I’m not looking forward to that. I haven’t been in an attic since high school when I fell through an attic floor and broke four bones. Fingers crossed I don’t break my personal record.
My tour guide for the day is a technician named Bud. Poor Bud must have done something to make someone mad, and they assigned me to him as punishment. Fortunately, he seems to have a lot of patience for wimps.
It Isn’t About the Spiders
While Bud collected supplies for the day, I waited nearby in the warehouse. Another tech came up to me and asked if I was ready. I feigned some confidence and nodded. “I’m just worried about the spiders,” I said, deciding not to share my entire list of fears. “The spiders aren’t the worst part,” she said. “They’re not too bad. It’s the camel crickets you have to worry about.” I’m sorry… what?
I made the mistake of Googling camel crickets on the drive to the customer’s house. Don’t make that same mistake. Camel crickets are basically gigantic crickets that look like leaping spiders with big, juicy legs.
Once we arrived at the house, I learned that I didn’t have to go in a crawlspace that day. Honestly, this was in everybody’s best interest anyways, because what customer wants to hear an adult woman shriek like a toddler in the supermarket while in their crawlspace? Imagine that noise coming from under your house.
Have You Ever Seen a Vibrating Ladder?
I may not have gone into a crawlspace, but I did go in the attic. And it was one of those tiny-hole-in-a-tall-ceiling kind of entrances. Bud started setting up his fancy convertible ladder. I’m watching him, the customer’s watching me, and all the while, I’m trying to stand there looking like a friendly and competent technician. The customer has no clue I’m actually on the marketing team. I work at a desk. This guy thinks I’m a technician-in-training.
Bud reaches the attic, crawls right in like a kid in the Chick-Fil-A playground, and hollers down for me to “come on up!”
Sure. Be right there. No big deal.
It’s just like going up stairs, right? I go up stairs all the time. I run out of breath, but I do it.
I step up on ladder rung #1. I get both feet up, nice and slow. The ladder is already visibly shaking.
Rung #2. Both feet. Deep breathing commences.
Rung #3. I just lost my left shoe cover. There’s no turning back.
I get near the top of the ladder and it’s basically vibrating because I’m so nervous. I shake like a chihuahua when I’m scared. Usually it’s not too hard to hide, but when the ladder started to make metallic rumbling sounds, I’m pretty sure the customer realized. He was probably trying to think of a polite way to tell me I should reconsider my career path.
The Floor is Lava
Bud guides me as I try to figure out how to transition from the ladder to the actual floor of the attic. I was in the top 10% of my class in college, and let me tell you, this maneuver stumped me. I pawed around at the attic floor like I was learning what hands were.
When I finally made it up, I sat in the corner of this small wooden board that marked the only safe area to step in the entire attic. It was like a sea of cotton candy (it was insulation. Don’t eat that stuff). Bud told me we were going to play a game of “The Floor is Lava.” Basically, step on the pink fluff if you want to take the shortcut downstairs.
Living in the Attic
When he finished the routine maintenance, explaining things along the way, he showed me how to climb down the ladder. He went first. Let me tell you, my new friend has long arms. Yours truly does NOT. I tried to mimic his graceful descent and couldn’t even reach where he gripped for balance.
I was about to exercise squatter’s rights and move into the attic.
Eventually, I figured out a way down, recovered my missing shoe cover, and thanked the customer for his time.
If you need me, I’ll be at my desk. I’ll save the ladders for the techs.