In the heat wave last month I bought a fan. It was a long contraption rather than then the box fan I’m used to owning. In the heat wave, I thought about cool air. My thoughts on the subject were limited to one idea: air moving through my home so that when I left and stood on the warm grass or walked through the shimmering heat, I could return to the cool hard wood floors of my home.
I was surprised to find that the fan came with instructions carrying the imperative heading: READ & SAVE THESE INSTRUCTIONS. I didn’t know a fan could be so complicated that it would require instructions. It wasn’t an expensive fan.
I do not need these complications in my life. Every device I own performs tasks that I didn’t know needed to be performed. There is a surplus of performance. I didn’t know I needed Amazon.com. Nor did I know I needed a cigarette case sized packet filled with days of music categorized by genre, artist, and release date. The fan even came with a remote so that I could sit on the couch, I suppose, and adjust the fan. My old fan seemed perfectly functional with an off, low, medium, high knob. Every device I have recently purchased in my house contains a remote. In front of the television that I hardly ever use there is a basket filled with remotes. Some of these remotes belong to devices that are long gone. The idea of these remotes controlling obscure functions makes me secure and satisfied that any need I might have will be met, and yet, these remotes do nothing to settle my nerves, to increase the amount of time I have in my day. Will reading the instruction manual that has come with my fan actually produce more efficient and pleasurable fan usage? Does a low, medium, high knob no longer met my fan requirements?
My grandmother lived in Ephrata in the middle of Washington State. She lived in a two story house with a basement filled with spider webs that I was told were black widow webs. One time as I was about to take a bath, eager to empty a box of Mr. Bubble into the tub, and start drawing water, I found a black widow crawling up the drain. They have an almost spherical black abdomen with a dark red hourglass. Their legs are long and round. I was too afraid to squish it. No one ever died from a black widow bite in her house. Box fans ran at all times during the summer at my grandmother’s house. Her cats for the most part would stay clear of them. There were a lot of cats at my grandmother’s house. When the cats had kittens one of the kittens would invariably become entranced by the spinning fans and stick a pink nose through the wire mess and into the blade.
Pages of warnings seemed warranted for the fan:
When using electrical appliances, basic precautions should always be followed to reduce the risk of fire, electric shock and injury.
- Use this fan only as directed in this manual. Non-recommended use may cause fire, shock or injury.
- This fan is intended for personal use INDOORS. It is NOT designed for commercial, industrial or outdoor use.
- Do NOT place fan in or near a window, to avoid contact with the outdoor elements and to avoid exposure to direct sunlight. Rain may create an electrical hazard. Do NOT immerse fan, plug or cord in water/liquid. Do NOT spray with water/liquid. DO NOT use Fan outdoors.
- Operate fan on a dry, level surface.
But this fan also had instructions for the fans ability to control the wind, and diagrams.
Sitting on the floor with my hundred remotes, I’m sure if I feel the flow of a natural wind with it’s automatically selected and random wind speed, I will feel like I’ve returned to an Eden of pure and innocent wind.