I knew we were in a little trouble the moment we walked through the door of our rental in Washington’s scenic Puget Sound area.
It was hot. Really hot. The Pacific Northwest was getting baked in triple-digit temperatures.
“Dad, where’s the air conditioner?” my 10-year-old daughter asked.
There was no air conditioner.
I opened all the windows, cranked the portable fan up to “high,” and tried to explain to the kids that this is the way it used to be. I told them about spending August with my grandmother in Freehold, N.J., with only a fan to keep us cool at night. A little discomfort can build character, but also make you appreciate the little things you have, I said.
“Where do we put the dirty dishes?” my 12-year-old son asked after dinner.
There was no dishwasher.
“You mean, we have to wash them by hand?” he said.
Yes, my young genius. Just like they used to.
Don’t get me wrong. I love this place. Check out the photo of our front porch (above). These minor inconveniences are worth it, don’t you think?
The conversations made me think of all the people who have come and gone in my line of work — in journalism, in consumer advocacy, and even in travel. Some of my colleagues complain about having to write full stories. They’d rather file a tweet or a photo and then go to the bar. But they don’t remember the days when stories were written on a typewriter.
Others won’t even bother to interview sources. They just want to dispense advice from their bloggy platforms. But they didn’t have Roberta’s journalism class, where she hammered you with the basics of good reporting. Too bad.
And when that metaphorical air conditioning is gone and you have to wash your dishes by hand, what do these self-proclaimed “experts” do? They leave. They become consultants or take 9-to-5 jobs working for the very companies that they used to protect you from. They want a sure thing.
I have to be honest: When the going gets tough, I think about getting out, too. But then I remember why I’m doing this. I’m not here for me — I’m here for you.
Also, living without a few modern conveniences is no hardship. Drive through Portland and Olympia, as I just did, to see human suffering on a larger scale. The homeless problem is on display at almost every street corner. No, we have it good. Better than we know.
Here are this week’s stories:
Still checking your work email on vacation? You’re not alone. (Washington Post)
Practice safe Internet on the road (USA Today)
On This Oregon Trail, A New Discovery Around Every Bend (Huffington Post)
American Airlines refunded only half of my ticket — where’s the rest? (Arizona Daily Star)
The 6 Biggest Lies Consumers Tell A Business (Huffington Post)
Have a great week!