Choosing clothes to wear during the transitional seasons is always a challenge. Frosty mornings give way to sunny, warm afternoons. Wearing layers is really the best option. I start my day wearing a jacket or sweater that I can peel off in the heat of the afternoon. I am prepared for this type of weather during the autumn and spring, but my mistake is that I expect that type of weather when I am outdoors, not inside my office.
On any given work day, I can experience three seasons in eight hours. It is nearly impossible to dress for a 30 degree swing in temperature. I wear multiple layers and stash a small wardrobe in my file cabinet: short sleeve t-shirt, sweatshirt and gloves. I am prepared for any temperature the HVAC system can throw at me, at least I thought I was.
There is a thermostat on the wall in my office. It looks like it works. There is a dial with temperature markings. It makes a clicking sound when I roll the dial. Psychologically that makes me feel better, but recently I’ve come to realize that it doesn’t do anything other than make that clicking sound. I called our maintenance department who confirmed my suspicions when they told me that the temperature is actually controlled by a company in Pennsylvania. Why is the temperature in my office in New Jersey controlled by a computer in Pennsylvania? Apparently it is more cost-effective to have them monitor the temperature than to have us fiddling with the thermostat. I’m considering putting a lovely frame around the thermostat in my office now that I know it is merely decorative.
There seems to be a glitch in having my office temperature controlled remotely from the neighboring state. When I entered my office on a recent Monday morning the temperature was 77 degrees, I peeled off my top layer and worked in relative comfort. Tuesday’s indoor high temperature climbed to toasty 83 degrees. I don’t have access to a window so I turned on a fan and removed several layers of my clothing, but I was still uncomfortable. It was like having a perpetual hot flash. I scavenged the office for a second fan and eventually, changed into my emergency short-sleeved t-shirt. During my lunch break, I decided to amuse myself by searching weather.com to find cities elsewhere in the world that were as warm as my office. If I was going to sit there with sweat running down the backs of my legs, I would at least like to be able to visualize being someplace tropical or exotic.
Before I even opened the door to my office on Wednesday morning there was an ominous sign; the metal doorknob was hot. I peered in the window. There was no smoke or flames so the room wasn’t on fire. This could only mean that my office must be sweltering. A hot breeze assaulted me when I opened the door. This had to be a new indoor high temperature record. I checked the thermometer – 93 degrees!
I am usually mild-mannered and good-humored, but those character traits diminish in direct relation to an increase in temperature. My heat-activated bitch switch was triggered and I became a crazy woman. I commandeered fans from other offices and turned them on full blast hoping to direct some of the hot air from my office back to the molten core of the Earth from whence it came. I removed all the layers it was acceptable to remove in public and ripped the socks and shoes off my feet. Still I was sweating profusely and found it hard to concentrate. I mustered all the strength I had so that I could hold the hot telephone to my ear and be calm and polite when I called maintenance to report the scorching temperature.
While I worked, sweated and waited for maintenance to make contact with the computer in Pennsylvania to lower the temperature, colleagues entered my office. Why is it that when someone walks into a hot room they feel the need to comment on the temperature? Do they think the person sitting in the room is completely unaware of the temperature? Weren’t my flushed cheeks, fan blown hair and bare feet enough clues to them that I was painfully aware of the heat?
Since my bitch switch had been flipped, I had no patience for being reminded about how hot I was. It got to the point that when someone stepped into the doorway of my office I could see their eyes widen when the wave of heat enveloped them. As the words were forming on their lips, I glared at them and said, “Don’t say it!” By the end of the day, my temper had moderated along with the temperature.
Having spent the rest of that week in relative comfort, I was lulled into the false sense that the computer in Pennsylvania had been properly calibrated. That hope was shattered the following Monday when I opened the door to my office. The temperature? 61 degrees!