Not so hot under the collar

July 31, 2008

How long does it take for a hot-water heater to properly warm up its contents?

Facing that question, I sit here dirty and moody while the water heater fulfills its destiny in my basement.

From a Karma standpoint it’s probably fortunate that the water heater pilot went out last night. There are errands on my docket for the day, but no pressing deadlines and no important interviews or meetings. We all know that the great unwashed don’t make a great first impression.

Deeper than the extrapolated result that hot water delivers, I wonder how our society got so fixated on piping hot water for cleaning ourselves and our belongings.

Multiple trips to Europe have taught me to cherish the abundance of heat AND water we get on this side of the Atlantic. Overseas, you can’t be a shower napper-the warm water envelope disappears after about 350 seconds and is replaced with needles of stinging ice shards.

I’ll admit that it’s more a psychological situation where our expectations have been built up to the point that warm water is taken for granted. Turn on the spigot and out pours clear, clean, hot water.

It’s the same as when we flip a light-switch skyward. The circuit is supposed to close and our lamp is supposed to illuminate the room.

Pause for a moment and think about how maniacal you become when the television remote has run down its batteries. It’s like an affront to your character that the ‘clicker’ would allow itself to become depleted while in your meaty paw.

The same holds true for cars that won’t start, burners that won’t light, fridges that let food spoil and computers that crash.

Isn’t there some sort of rule in place that should have prevented this? Who can we blame?

Today I almost decided to take a cold shower to embrace the European or even early settlers’ way of life. I had the towel out and the cell phone on the sink just in case the cold water caused my heart to stop.

Then I thought about those same settlers and the generations who spent centuries in cold castles and murky caves. And I realized if I am not smart enough to improve my own situation when given the tools (mental and physical) to do so, I’m doing the entire evolutionary process a disservice.

Darwin would have applauded my efforts (and success) in relighting the pilot. He’d also cheer softly that I wasn’t sitting here cursing the grime on my body while waiting for the water to heat up.

And while we’re bringing up people I’ve never met, I think Freud would say that I had advanced mentally and established a positive pattern for adapting to my environment. He’d add that I was probably a contributing member of society and then bill me $15 for my co-pay.

Had circumstances been different, would I have freaked out entirely and broken into a Holiday Inn Express to get smarter and get clean at the same time? I can’t say.

But I will tell you that in the time it’s taken me to write this, the water heater has probably done its job and I’m going to go scrub my body clean and continue my day.

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