Editor’s Note: Earlier this year, Justin wrote Iceland, a blog about his band’s American tour. Justin isn’t on tour anymore, but Iceland continues, twice a week, on City Desk.

“Where is your boiler?” asked the boiler-servicer. This boiler-servicer had called at my house to service my boiler, a gas-burning, heat-producing appliance that had not been serviced or approached for many years. In truth, I had ignored my boiler.

“My boiler is right here, behind this drum set,” I explained. I moved the drum set’s ride cymbal so that the boiler-servicer could access my boiler. If the boiler-servicer thought it unusual that I had to move a ride cymbal to access my boiler, he made no comment. Without a word, he disassembled my boiler and, with a large wet-dry vacuum, sucked a decade’s worth of dust from its steel entrails. This dust billowed through my basement, covering me, the boiler-servicer, and my drumset.

“This cruel dust is toxic, black, and, I suspect, carbon-based,” I remarked, coughing. The boiler-servicer also coughed.

“Chimney-sweep,” the boiler-servicer remarked, coughing.

“What did you say?” I inquired, continuing to cough.

“You must contact a chimney-sweep,” the boiler-servicer repeated. “It is not enough for me to come over here and clean your boiler. Many years’ worth of soot has collected in your chimney. This soot prevents your boiler from breathing properly. To achieve maximum boiler efficiency, this soot must be removed.”

“Can you be serious?” I said. I turned on a fan to clear the cruel dust. Instead, the fan kicked up the cruel dust, which continued to billow about the room. This whole chimney-sweep concept must be a scam, I thought, but did not say. A chimney-sweep—-like in Mary Poppins?

“Are you thinking of Mary Poppins?” queried the boiler-servicer.

“Sir, you read my mind,” I admitted.

“Do not think that the whole chimney-sweep concept is a scam that does not exist outside the 1964 Disney film Mary Poppins,” the boiler-servicer asserted. “As long as there are chimneys, there will be a need for chimney-sweeps. Chimney-sweeps are real, and, in your case, their services are required.”

“After you have cleaned my boiler, will my heating bill decrease?” I queried.

“I don’t think so,” replied the boiler-servicer.

“If I hire a chimney-sweep to clean my chimney, will this affect my heating bill?” I persisted.

“I don’t think so,” replied the boiler-servicer.

“Well, sir…” I carefully considered my next question. “If neither servicing my boiler nor sweeping my chimney will lower my heating bill, why service or sweep?” I asked.

“To achieve maximum boiler efficiency,” the boiler-servicer replied. “Efficiency is an end unto itself.”

“Your Zen-like, existential stance on boiler efficiency fascinates me,” I admitted.

“I am happy my position interests you, as my services will cost $150,” the boiler-servicer said. “Chim-chim-cheree.”

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