She Didn’t Plan For This

Leaves are at their most deceptive in mid-Fall.  The candy apple reds, the lemon sucker yellows, and the pumpkin spice latte oranges have a way of lulling you into a false sense of security.   They make you think that Mother Nature is your friend, that the world will always be this beautiful, and that somehow Winter will completely forgo your neck of the woods.

All it took was a bone-chilling rain storm for Danielle Arden to wake up to reality.

“Cold weather is coming,” she said to herself.  “Time to book my annual furnace inspection.”

They’re not glamourous – furnace inspections, but they’re a good idea when you live a Northern climate.  Danielle arranges for a maintenance technician to visit her house every year, and the night before she always does the same thing: clean her house from top to bottom.

“He’ll be coming in through the side door, so I should wash the walls and stairs that lead down to the basement,” she said with less than twenty-four hours to go before this year’s appointment.  “He’ll likely come up to the kitchen when he’s done to tell me how things went; I better scrub that down, too.  He’ll also probably want to check the thermostat in the living room.  That means passing by my office, the bathroom, and my bedroom.  And I can’t forget the basement itself.  I have a busy night ahead of me.”

All that housework did keep Danielle busy, right up to midnight, but at least she could rest easy knowing that her place would look more than presentable to the technician.  The next day he arrived at exactly 3:30, the appointed time.

“Hi, I’m Jake,” he said while standing on the landing.  “I’ll just head downstairs and get right to it, if that’s okay with you.”

Fifteen minutes later was the next time she heard from him, asking her to come downstairs.

“You have a problem,” he said.

“Oh?” she said in return.

“Your heat exchanger has more holes in it than a slice of Swiss cheese.  Have you been having any headaches lately?”

“As a matter of fact, I  have.  Why?” she asked.

“I hate to tell you this ma’am, but you need to replace your furnace.  An old thing like this, I’m surprised it held up this long.”

“How much does a new furnace cost?” she then asked.

“You’re looking at a few thousand.  I’ll have Al from our Sales department give you a call.”

And with that he left, without ever stepping foot in her sparkling clean kitchen, her spotless living room, or any of the other rooms she worked so hard to clean.  Danielle had planned for everything, except for the prospect of needing to replace her thirty-year-old furnace.

“I hope my new furnace comes with gift certificates for a year’s worth of free groceries because I don’t see how I can afford both,” she said after Jake had left.  “Oh, the joys of home ownership.”


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