Today was mildly pleasant at work. To clarify: most days I enjoy my basic job function. But there is one major drawback. It affects every minute of my day in an all-consuming way that’s impossible to ignore.
It is freezing.
I don’t mean, “Oh, they set the temperature a little low.” I mean that every single day of the year, from January 1st through December 31st, there is a constant icy cold stream of air steadily blowing from the moment I step in the door until the moment I leave. It is relentless.
I’m not the only one who feels this way. Most people wear their winter coats for the entire workday. I’ve seen everything from fingerless gloves (for easier typing, of course) to floor length blankets with sleeves, scarves, hats, thick socks, and year-round cable knit sweaters. Sleeveless shirts and bare legs in the summer is a laughable concept. You might as well strip naked and spend the day in a walk-in freezer.
So why? If it’s so cold, why don’t they turn on the heat (or at the very least… turn down the air)? Poor building planning is the short answer. The offices in the building are windowless and small, and seem to have been added on as an afterthought. They have terrible ventilation and therefore cause their inhabitants to swelter, even while the rest of the employees chip icicles from their chins. And as you may imagine, the people in the offices carry a little more clout than the lowly cubicle workers. So no matter how many times I email the facilities manager with desperate pleas for a temperature boost attached to pictures of the arctic Tundra, the constant frigid blast continues day in and day out.
Today, however, was a breakthrough. Someone who sits close to me unearthed a space heater from an empty office and turned it on full blast. The air conditioning tried its best to keep us in our frozen state, but that little heater won out and provided a cocoon of warmth that allowed me to shed a layer, stop shivering, and actually be a little more productive (thawed out fingers have that effect).
The whole thing reminds me of something my dad used to say: “We’re too busy mopping the floor to turn off the faucet.” That has always resonated with me. I prefer solving the root of a problem rather than constantly cleaning up the aftermath, which is why when other coworkers share their keep-warm tricks I often exclaim, “But why don’t they just turn off the air conditioning? It’s snowing outside.”
I don’t know the solution, nor do I have the power to “shut off the faucet” in this situation. As with most offices, the thermostat is literally kept under lock and key. But I am eternally grateful for that little space heater that gave me hope again.