“This is the story of every New Yorker’s worst nightmare happening to me,” writes Jessica Roy in Daily Intelligencer. Bedbug infestation? Low Uber rating? Plutocrat rats the size of cats gentrifying your neighborhood? Nope: Every New Yorker’s worst nightmare is, according to Roy, when the 100-pound air conditioner you have uncertainly balanced on your windowsill (“It teeters a little bit”) slips from your grasp and crashes to the ground two flights below.
This is only proximately accurate. Every New Yorker’s worst nightmare is not when you drop your air conditioner out the window. Every New Yorker’s worst nightmare is being under that window.
If you drop your air conditioner out the window, the only thing that matters is whether or not you hurt someone.
We at Moneybox are sympathetic to customers who wish to elude gratuitous service fees (“I do manage to say no to installation, however, because it costs $50,” Roy writes), who try to align their consumer habits with their sociocultural and political identities (“I am a feminist who can definitely install a 100-pound air conditioner herself”), and who embody a can-do DIY spirit ("It teeters a little bit”). In most circumstances, we at Moneybox would reflexively support any customer seeking redress from a retailer ("I’m, like, upset! I’m sorry! You guys won’t, like … refund me, right?”) after sustaining injuries by said retailer’s product ("The air conditioner slides out of my hands and takes a layer of skin with it”) when said retailer hasn’t even advised the customer on, for example, the influence of blood-sugar levels on air-conditioning-installation outcomes ("I haven’t eaten dinner yet, so I’m, like, real hangry”).
However, it still stands that if you drop your air conditioner out the window, the only thing that matters is whether or not you hurt someone.
Wait a minute, you say. One, installing air conditioning units is hard! Two, Roy’s apartment overlooked a patio, not a busy sidewalk! Three, falling air conditioners aren’t even all that dangerous—a Gawker investigation could only find a single instance of an A/C death in New York, all the way back in 1988.
No, no, and no. If you want A/C and don’t want to pay an installation fee, the solution is not to plonk the unit on your windowsill (“It teeters a little bit”), close the window, and hope for the best—the solution is to pay the installation fee, or to make some friends who can help you. Patios are designed for use by people who can be harmed by falling A/C units. And pointing out that your falling 100-pound hunk of sheet metal and aluminum tubes probably won’t kill anyone—when the same ostensibly reassuring Gawker piece is a litany of head injuries, broken ribs and pelvises, and cracked vertebrae—is sort of like arguing in favor of blowing stop signs near primary schools in your Escalade so long as the pedestrians whose legs you crush and skulls you splinter don’t die.
“Why is everything the worst?” Roy asks at one point in her piece. Everything is not the worst, fellow New Yorker. If you drop your air conditioner out the window, the only thing that matters is whether or not you hurt someone. You didn’t. You are living the dream.