RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
Time now for StoryCorps. The heat broke records this summer, and to mark the end of the hot season, let's hear from a family that's been keeping people cool for more than half a century. Frank Mutz started it all, installing and repairing air conditioners in the 1950s. Now, he's running the business in Atlanta alongside his children. His son Phil joined Frank at StoryCorps to talk about the family business.
PHIL MUTZ: Well, no one really dreams of air conditioning at night, you know? No one thinks, like, oh, I cannot wait to work on that air conditioner. But I'm the guy that goes in there and crawls through your rat-infested crawl space in the 132-degree attic. I'm sort of like a doctor for machines.
FRANK MUTZ: Back in the '70s, we air conditioned a lot of churches. On Sunday mornings, sometimes I'd get a call - our air conditioner doesn't work. Well, one time, I was down there and the preacher was doing a really high-powered prayer. And as he concluded with amen, I hit the switch, and cool air started coming down, and I thought it was kind of funny.
P. MUTZ: Think those collections went up that day?
F. MUTZ: I think it did. You know, most of our customers are very nice. But how do you handle the ones that are not nice?
P. MUTZ: I try to understand that they just slept in a house when it's 90-something degrees outside. That puts anybody in their worst mood.
F. MUTZ: I thought I was always very good at getting people who were unhappy happy.
P. MUTZ: I do learn that from you. The kind of warmth you project - you never get frazzled or impatient with anybody.
F. MUTZ: What would you want your legacy to be?
P. MUTZ: The simple answer is, not to screw it up.
F. MUTZ: Well, I'm very proud of the job you're doing. You know, my father always told me that. I didn't get the best grades, but I have common sense. I have a relative that went to a top university, got straight A's, just so smart.
And he had a job in college. He was painting these iron gates, and they gave him the paint can. But he did not know to pry up the paint can lid. He took a screwdriver and just kept beating holes in it till he could pour it out (laughter). That's the difference between having really scary no common sense and...
P. MUTZ: Sure.
F. MUTZ: ...You know, being book smart. And you got decent grades in school, and you graduated from college. But also, you have good common sense, which in our business is everything.
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MONTAGNE: That's air conditioner repairman Frank Mutz and his son Phil at StoryCorps in Atlanta. Their conversation is archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress and will be featured on the StoryCorps podcast.
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