Phoenix, Hell, and the Bucket Lady

 

After a mild few months, summer heat finally hit Phoenix this week. No return of our record-breaking 122°F; yesterday was a balmy 111°. The show “King of the Hill” best expressed non-Arizonans’ view of the Valley of the Sun.

Bobby: 111 degrees?! Phoenix really can’t be that hot, can it? (steps out of car) Oh my God, it’s like standing on the sun!

Peggy: This city should not exist. It is a monument to man’s arrogance.

Jonah Goldberg had a summer speaking engagement at the Goldwater Institute while I was in their employ. I directed him to our patio for his afternoon cigar break. Ten minutes later, he returned saying, “You live in hell!”

Why do I live in hell? My parents escaped the frozen tundra of Sault Ste. Marie, MI, ultimately ending up in its climatological evil twin. Their last February there, they must have thought, what’s the exact opposite of this? Living here since I was a wee lad, I’m used to the intensity, though outsiders think my neighbors and I are crazy.

We only have two months of awful heat — mid-July to mid-September. That’s when the humidity rises, keeping the temperatures north of 100° late into the evening. We’re not there yet, but I’ll take two hot months here over four months of gray, icy misery in the upper Midwest.

Still, the heat can drive some people batty; a former co-worker comes to mind. This middle-aged female, let’s call her Didi, already had a few idiosyncrasies.

Her claim to fame — which she proudly shared with every new employee — was her one-night stand with George Harrison. When the younger folks weren’t dazzled by the awesome, Didi would enthuse, “well, that was in the ’60s when The Beatles were huge. It was a very big deal!”

Didi also drove a dark blue ’60s Mustang, and didn’t want to ruin its original condition by installing an air conditioner … despite the fact that she drove 25 miles to work every day and lived in hell.

One toasty July day, I asked how she could stand the heat.

Didi: “Oh, I have a great system! Right before I leave my house in the morning, I dump a bucket of water over my head.”

Me: “Uh… you…”

Didi: “Yeah, a bucket of water! You know, my car is fast, so I just roll down all my windows and it works just like a swamp cooler.”

Me: “A bucket?”

Didi: “And since it gets so windy, my hair and clothes are all dried off by the time I get to work.”

Me: “Of water?”

Didi: “A lot cheaper and better than air conditioning, that’s for sure!”

And then prior to leaving the office, she would take said bucket into the ladies’ room and repeat the process.

By the time the next summer rolled around, she had to make a change in her routine. As she loudly confided to me, she now had a serious incontinence issue. “I can’t use the freeway anymore — you never know when it’s going to hit!”

Unfortunately, the various gas station attendants along her route didn’t understand why a middle-aged woman soaked head-to-toe was frantically demanding a restroom key from them every few days. Didi lamented, “they look at me like I’m a crazy person!”

You don’t say.


This is an entry in June’s theme series: “Hot Stuff!” We have a lot of open days as the summer season starts. Please stop by and sign up to share your own angle on the topic, however loosely construed.

Published in Group Writing
Like this post? Want to comment? Join Ricochet’s growing community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

There are 17 comments.

  1. MACHO GRANDE' (aka - Chri… Coolidge

    I would agree with the concept of a few months of bad heat and humidity are worth the trade-off. I live in North Carolina. Used to live in Vermont.

    This math is easy. But I only put a bucket on my head when I want to avoid being labeled a Vermonter, and people associate me with also being a Sanders supporter.

    • #1
    • June 13, 2019, at 11:08 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  2. James Gawron Thatcher

    Jon,

    I played this video for Susan Quinn of Florida a few days ago. This post of yours seems to require it also.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #2
    • June 13, 2019, at 11:17 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  3. RushBabe49 Thatcher

    Many of my neighbors have moved to Arizona for retirement. I just can’t see living in a place where you can’t go outside for months. I’d rather cope with 20 below zero than 111 above.

    • #3
    • June 13, 2019, at 11:59 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  4. Jeff Giambrone Coolidge

    I once interviewed a Scottish war bride that married an American soldier during World War 2, and moved to the United States when the war ended. She arrived in Jackson, Mississippi, in early spring, and her new in-laws were waiting to pick her up from the train station. I asked what her first impression of Mississippi was, and she said, without even having to think about it, “I thought I was in hell.” She went on to say that she had never been so hot in all her life. She said one of the first questions she asked her in-laws was, “Does it get any hotter?” And then she told me, “They lied and said it didn’t.”

    • #4
    • June 13, 2019, at 12:16 PM PDT
    • 12 likes
  5. Brent Chambers Member

    I am from the midwest but have lived in Arizona for the last 15 years. I remember the day I realized I had gone native. My first cup of coffee in the morning must be hot. I had worked late the previous night and slept in a little the next day. I got in the car mid-day to drive to work. The car, especially the steering wheel, was hotter than my coffee. I shrugged, sipped my coffee, and drove to work.

    My main problem is the monotony of the heat. I feel like embracing it at the beginning of the summer, but I do become tired of it. There is also that sad day every summer, typically in the second week of July, when my pool gets too hot to swim in. And I will admit that I save all my vacation time for the last two weeks of July and first week of August.

    • #5
    • June 13, 2019, at 12:51 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  6. Jon Gabriel, Ed. Chief
    Jon Gabriel, Ed. Post author

    Brent Chambers (View Comment):
    I am from the midwest but have lived in Arizona for the last 15 years. I remember the day I realized I had gone native. My first cup of coffee in the morning must be hot. I had worked late the previous night and slept in a little the next day. I got in the car mid-day to drive to work. The car, especially the steering wheel, was hotter than my coffee. I shrugged, sipped my coffee, and drove to work.

    I do the same thing. I don’t know if it’s psychological or what, but and iced coffee doesn’t work in the AM.

    • #6
    • June 13, 2019, at 1:50 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  7. Gary Robbins Reagan

    I grew up in the Phoenix area. What is oppressive is not so much the high each day, but the low which is in the 80’s or 90’s every day for months on end. Imagine, even during the dead of night and/or just before dawn the temperature is in the 80’s or 90’s. It is oppressive.

    In 1992 I escaped to Flagstaff. Phoenix is at 1100 feet, Flagstaff is at 7000 feet. Almost every day, the high in Flagstaff is within a couple of degrees of the low in Phoenix.

    • #7
    • June 13, 2019, at 2:24 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  8. Full Size Tabby Member

    Didi’s climate control system apparently worked for her, so what’s the problem? She saved a few hundred dollars on an after-market air conditioner too!

    • #8
    • June 13, 2019, at 2:57 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  9. Full Size Tabby Member

    Jeff Giambrone (View Comment):

    I once interviewed a Scottish war bride that married an American soldier during World War 2, and moved to the United States when the war ended. She arrived in Jackson, Mississippi, in early spring, and her new in-laws were waiting to pick her up from the train station. I asked what her first impression of Mississippi was, and she said, without even having to think about it, “I thought I was in hell.” She went on to say that she had never been so hot in all her life. She said one of the first questions she asked her in-laws was, “Does it get any hotter?” And then she told me, “They lied and said it didn’t.”

    On the opposite end of the thermometer, we were at an event for prospective students at the college our son eventually attended (Clarkson University in Potsdam, NY – very far north in rural New York state – the closest city is Montreal). We met a family from Virginia who wanted us to assure their son that the 25 degree temperature on that early November day was the coldest it got there. We were truthful and assured him that it would get much, much colder as the winter progressed. 

    • #9
    • June 13, 2019, at 3:07 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  10. Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… Thatcher

    Now beginning my third summer in the Phoenix area I can tell I’m getting acclimated. Yesterday’s 112 was pretty bad, but 100 to 105 now feels just fine (and I can really tell the difference between 105 and 110). Well, fine provided (a) I’m not in the direct sun, which here in Phoenix is only 5 miles away, compared to 93 million elsewhere in the US and (b) we remember to put a towel on the metal handle of our west facing front door so we don’t burn our hands while entering our home.

    • #10
    • June 13, 2019, at 3:12 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  11. aardo vozz Member

    I remember the assignment I had in Phoenix during the summer. The temperature reached 100 degrees every morning before 9am.

    • #11
    • June 13, 2019, at 3:14 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  12. MACHO GRANDE' (aka - Chri… Coolidge

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):

    Jeff Giambrone (View Comment):

    I once interviewed a Scottish war bride that married an American soldier during World War 2, and moved to the United States when the war ended. She arrived in Jackson, Mississippi, in early spring, and her new in-laws were waiting to pick her up from the train station. I asked what her first impression of Mississippi was, and she said, without even having to think about it, “I thought I was in hell.” She went on to say that she had never been so hot in all her life. She said one of the first questions she asked her in-laws was, “Does it get any hotter?” And then she told me, “They lied and said it didn’t.”

    On the opposite end of the thermometer, we were at an event for prospective students at the college our son eventually attended (Clarkson University in Potsdam, NY – very far north in rural New York state – the closest city is Montreal). We met a family from Virginia who wanted us to assure their son that the 25 degree temperature on that early November day was the coldest it got there. We were truthful and assured him that it would get much, much colder as the winter progressed.

    Yeah that would have been a big fat lie.

    Clarkson is above the habitable line. It’s only viable to go there if you really, really want to be an engineer, and don’t mind playing hockey in your free time 10 months out of the year.

    • #12
    • June 14, 2019, at 6:46 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  13. Randy Weivoda Moderator

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.: We only have two months of awful heat — mid-July to mid-September. That’s when the humidity rises, keeping the temperatures north of 100° late into the evening. We’re not there yet, but I’ll take two hot months here over four months of gray, icy misery in the upper Midwest.

    Four months, huh? In northwestern Minnesota winter is about five months a year, but it feels longer.

    • #13
    • June 15, 2019, at 3:12 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  14. Clifford A. Brown Contributor

    We have another vote for hot over cold, I think. And yes, the light breeze the other day had all the cooling effect of a blowdryer set on low.

    Don’t faint from the heat, be cool and join in this month’s theme series: Hot Stuff!” We have a number of open days as the summer season starts. Please stop by and sign up to share your own angle on the topic, however loosely construed.

    • #14
    • June 16, 2019, at 12:46 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  15. JustmeinAZ Member

    RushBabe49 (View Comment):

    Many of my neighbors have moved to Arizona for retirement. I just can’t see living in a place where you can’t go outside for months. I’d rather cope with 20 below zero than 111 above.

    We can too go outside! If you’re out of the house by 5 AM you can have quite a pleasant 1 hour walk.

    This is the comparison I always use: Even if it’s 110 I have no problem walking from my car to the entrance to the store. When we lived in RI the short walk from the car when it was 25 and the wind was blowing seemed like a 20 mile hike.

    • #15
    • June 16, 2019, at 9:37 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  16. Clifford A. Brown Contributor

    JustmeinAZ (View Comment):

    RushBabe49 (View Comment):

    Many of my neighbors have moved to Arizona for retirement. I just can’t see living in a place where you can’t go outside for months. I’d rather cope with 20 below zero than 111 above.

    We can too go outside! If you’re out of the house by 5 AM you can have quite a pleasant 1 hour walk.

    This is the comparison I always use: Even if it’s 110 I have no problem walking from my car to the entrance to the store. When we lived in RI the short walk from the car when it was 25 and the wind was blowing seemed like a 20 mile hike.

    No danger of slipping on the ice.

    • #16
    • June 16, 2019, at 12:39 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  17. JimGoneWild Coolidge

    I had a friend who lived in Fountain Hills, AZ, he would invite me down from Colorado in July and August because the golf rates were soooooo cheap. Duh. I never went. Colorado is awesome in the Summer (and every other season).

    • #17
    • June 19, 2019, at 1:24 PM PDT
    • 1 like