On being … filtered

By Ingrid Sapona 

In my condo there are two fan coils. These are the units that provide heat in winter and air conditioning in summer. The condo corporation is responsible for the fan coils and for deciding when to turn the heat on and when to switch over to air conditioning. Each fan coil has its own thermostat, which is the owner’s responsibility. For some reason, my two thermostats were not identical. 

The one in the living room allows me to run the fan alone, which is really handy when the weather warms up (as it did earlier this month) but the building heat is still on. The thermostat on the unit in the bedroom didn’t allow for that. I decided to look into switching out the thermostat in the bedroom to one that would work like the one in the living room. Given that the fan coil units are old, however, I wasn’t sure it was possible. 

I asked the property manager and he said he’d ask his HVAC guy. An hour later he called me back and said his HVAC guy could come and install a new one that day, if I wanted it. It was a bit pricy and I’m not good at fast decisions – but I had been thinking about it for a bit, so I said sure. 

Later that afternoon a young technician showed up. Before he started, I showed him how the living room one works and I explained the fan functionality I’m looking for. He assured me the new thermostat, which is the same brand as the original one, would work as I wanted. Indeed, he said, it even has the same footprint so no touch-up painting was required. Great, I said. 

Once he took the new one out of the box and began installing it, I noticed that the digital display window on it is big. The display on the old one was only about ¾-inch but on the new one it’s nearly three inches wide. Oh no, I thought… What if the light on the display is always on? Certain kinds of light at night drive me crazy. For example, if there’s a digital bedside clock in a in hotel room, I usually end up putting a sock over it because the light bothers me. Or sometimes I find the LED light on hotel smoke detectors annoyingly bright. 

I didn’t want let on to the installer about my new concern, though I was beginning to worry that I’d regret having changed the thermostat. I had even starting thinking about ways to cover it at night. But, I didn’t mention it to him because I thought he probably has no idea what they look like at night, since he installs these things during the day. Or just as likely, if I asked him if the display lights up, he’d probably enthusiastically say, “Yeah – it’s great” because younger folks have an affinity for lit up devices. 

In the 10 minutes it took him to do the installation, I came up with an idea that allowed me to tell the truth without admitting my light-at-night quirks. I asked him to leave me the old one, “in case I hate the new one”. It was true because if I hated the new one, I’d sure as heck find someone to re-install the old one. He seemed surprised, but said “Ahh… sure – I usually take them away, but I can leave it. But you’ll love this one… it’s much easier to read and you’ll be able to use the fan any time.” Ah yes, I thought – that’s what prompted the change, but little did he know there were competing concerns I wasn’t admitting to. 

That night I discovered that the huge display does light up. In fact, the light is QUITE bright. But, thankfully, it only stays on for about 10 seconds after you’ve adjusted the temperature or fan setting. 

While Shakespeare would probably end this with an “all’s well that ends well”, I’ve been thinking about why I made the split-second decision not to admit my concerns about the light. I’ve already explained some of the reasons, but there are other things at play, for sure. I think I’m a bit sensitive because one sister always “teases” me about it and so maybe I’m a bit embarrassed. Or maybe I thought he’d judge me because of it. I know, sounds odd, but there must have been a reason I decided not to come clean. 

Though I think of myself as pretty straightforward, I’ve been noticing that I engage in self-censorship (like my episode with the thermostat guy) a fair bit. As a result, I’m trying to pay more attention to when and why I do it. Of course, I’m also I’m wondering if others do it too. I think most everyone does it in social settings to some degree – but the thing is, it’s not usually something we admit to others. 

So, I figure there’s no point in me asking you if you do it… but maybe this has got you thinking a bit about your filters… 

© 2023 Ingrid Sapona


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