I’ve been interviewing an air conditioner, because it wants a book written about its life, but obviously can’t do so itself, given that it doesn’t really understand how to use a word processing program.
The first thing that Airy told me was that it prefers gender-neutral pronouns, even though most people refer to it as he. “Yes, it’s quite problematic, how everybody assumes I am a man,” Airy says as he turns the temperature down from twenty-one to nineteen, just for my comfort. “It has always bothered me, but I tend to keep quiet about it. Most people just want their air conditioner to do its job, not talk about air conditioner rights.”
I ask how Airy is feeling, and it gives me a warm smile. “Never better. Just the other day we had an air conditioning service technician from Sydney come by and make sure everything was running smoothly. It’s always good to have a check-up, every now and then. It makes my job a lot easier.”
“Has it been hard, having so many people live in the same home as you?” I ask. Airy takes a long time to respond, and I feel the temperature in the room drop a little more. “Oh, people come and go, you know. It doesn’t bother me too much.” I sense that it’s not being entirely truthful, and prod a little harder. Airy sighs. “Most residents are great, but there are the special few that stick with you. There was one man who worked in Sydney, air conditioning repairs was his trade. He treated me with much respect. He left a few years ago. I do miss him.”
It’s a long interview, and I learn much about Airy’s great life. I ask why it wants its story told in the first place. “Well, I just think that more people need to hear our stories. The sooner people know what it’s like to be an air conditioner, the sooner we’ll have the right to vote. And that’s just the start of things.”