I’d just switched off my bedroom light for the night when I heard the sound of dripping water. Plip, plop, plip, plop … It’s strange how a simple sound like that can irritate you after a while. I tried to ignore it, but the conscious act of ignoring it only made me all the more aware of the constant plipping and plopping.

Then it occurred to me that it hadn’t been raining that day. I switched on the light and was confronted by the sight of a small puddle of water on the parquet floor directly below the air conditioner.

I eyed the delinquent unit for a moment. It had been coughing and wheezing sporadically over the past two weeks and its capacity to cool effectively had also been drastically reduced.

Hoping that it was only a rubber tube that needed replacing, I switched off the unit and went back to bed.

However, without the comforting hum of my air conditioner, I couldn’t get back to sleep. I quickly realised that this same sound had also helped drown out some of the noise of the restless dogs in my neighbourhood.

Half an hour later, I was scrutinising my delinquent unit, screwdriver in hand. I had no idea what I was supposed to be doing, but I dislike feeling incompetent.

If I am a true woman of the millennium, I should be able to fix things just as well as any man. This notion is based on the ludicrous assumption that all men know how to fix things, when in fact some of them just look at their broken stuff in a certain squinty-eyed manner, which they learned in elementary woodwork classes. Then, when a crucial number of items in their house are in need of repair, they take a job requiring them to move to another state.

The previous sentence might not be entirely accurate, but there is no reason a woman should automatically think that a man’s gender automatically endows him with the capabilities of a DIY expert.

Knowledge is power, I decided as I retrieved my Fix-It-Yourself book from my bookshelf. I flicked through the virgin pages until I came to the section on “Large” appliances. The word “Large” seemed to mock me, as if the author had somehow known that one day a woman would read his book and shrink back at the mere thought of the magnitude of the repair job at hand.

Undeterred, I ploughed on doggedly until I’d determined the possible cause of all that plipping and plopping. I then opened the front grill on my air conditioner and boldly went where this woman had never gone before.

The good Fix-It-Yourself book did suggest that I consult the owner’s manual to determine the correct procedure for removing the grill (something about the risk of dislodging the thermostat sensor bulb), but I was on a roll and had no inclination to go hunting around for a 10-year-old yellow-paged manual that in all probability had been used to line a cat’s litter box many years before.

Two hot and humid hours later, after I’d cleaned up the dust-clogged bowels of my air conditioner, I replaced the front grill, tightened up the screws and switched on the power. I’m sure I heard a growl of appreciation from the old unit before it kicked into action, but it’s also possible that the lateness of the hour was playing tricks on my ears.

Feeling like a parent who was attending her child’s debut performance in a school play, I wanted to watch the performance but at the same time I felt nervous at the prospect of any embarrassing blunders halfway through the show. My nerves eventually got the better of me and I adjourned to the kitchen for a soothing cup of tea.

When I eventually summoned up the courage to open my bedroom door, I felt the cold air rushing out to greet me. I inspected the floor directly beneath the air conditioner – it was as dry as a camel’s bladder. I sighed with contentment and made my weary way to bed.

As I drifted off to sleep, it did occur to me that I should have had a shower to get rid of the dust that clung to my body, but I quickly dismissed the thought. After all, when sleep is the No.1 priority, no self-respecting woman of the millennium would be preoccupied with such trivial matters, would she now?


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