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I thought I was cool until ... well, even thinking of it makes ...


I thought I was cool until ... well, even thinking of it makes me sweat

The day a bluffer like me, with superior savoir faire, made me brood on my humiliation

Do you know what’s worse than having no air conditioner during a heatwave?  It’s having an air conditioner that doesn’t work. Right now there’s a heatwave in parts of western and southern Europe because some or other weather circumstance over the Atlantic is drawing in hot air from North Africa, and all over the place pallid Europeans are throwing off their hoodies and jerseys and traipsing barefoot through public parks and throwing their girlfriends romantically into fountains, but I am just a boy in a rented apartment, standing in front of an AC unit, asking it to work.

There is something particularly frustrating about a broken air conditioner in Europe, because the Europeans are very skilled at gaslighting you. In Istanbul in 2018, during a heatwave, I called the superintendent of my building, a man who spoke perfect English until the time came for him to fix something. He stood in the lounge, looking puzzled, watching me jab a broom at the offending unit, then pointing to my sweaty brow, trying to decipher what I could possibly be saying.

Finally he stood in front of the vent, holding up his hand to the non-existent cold air, then looked at me quizzically, as though to say, “This is working perfectly”. I shook my head and acted out dying pitifully in the desert. He nodded his head and wrapped his arms around his sweaty self and pretended to shiver. You can’t ever beat a Turkish maintenance man, although I was sorely tempted...

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