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August 28th, 2007


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09:23 am - Heat
Yesterday our office thermostat was dead. D-E-D dead. As such, the section I work in decided it didn't need to run the air conditioner. At all. Seeing as how I work in a restricted-access area (really, you need your badge to open the door; I just like saying "restricted-access area" as it conjures up images of black-and-yellow diagonal warning strips, rotating red emergency lights and klaxon alarms) we couldn't keep the door open for any kind of cross-breeze whatsoever. It was uncomfortably warm when I was among the first few people in at 8:00, but it became downright stifling once the sun rose highter and the rest of the day crew showed up to contribute their body heat to the situation.

The situation was completely dire. My T-shirt soaked thru in all the places that sweat likes to soak thru, tempers were barely contained, and one tried to move a little as possible because even moving the air around wasn't helping. My deodorant went out around 9:30, leaving me in an extreme state of self-consciousness. The management helpfully brought in a case of cold, cold, ice cold bottled water, but it was difficult to decide whether we should drink it or just pour it directly over our heads (the latter was ruled out because, you know, it might damage the electronics.) Instead, I stopped periodically to go stick my head in the breakroom fridge.

Lunchtime came at noon. Lunch! Hurray! Time to go outside and breathe actual real air, enjoy the cool outdoors, and maybe sit by the nice, cool, Fort Point Channel to watch the nice, cool, brackish water flow by. I grabbed some pretzels and a soft drink and walked over to the channel, listening to the pleasant sounds of fire sirens, so commonplace in our busy urban environment.

That's when I noticed the big billowy clouds of smoke coming from somewhere on the channel. The smoke was a dark gray and black (which, someone online noted, simply meant that we hadn't elected a Pope yet) and was coming from the middle of the channel where the Congress Street drawbridge is. I remembered seeing the former counterweight structure wrapped in some kind of fabric-like tarp (they've removed the giant concrete blocks that served as the counterweights, so once the bridge is open again you no longer have to feel all oogy walking or driving underneath them) and so my first thought was "Oh, man, they must've caught on fire."

Turns out it was the old Boston Tea Party Ship Museum building (not the Tea Party Ship itself, which is in Gloucester for restoration.) The building was located on a pier next to the drawbridge mechanism, and was just up and consumed in big angry flames which made big angry black clouds. The firefighters were doing a noble job of battling the fire and the smoke told the story of this epic struggle, turning white when the firefighters were winning (and we'd found a Pope) but then turning black again when some other part of the structure caught the blaze (and presumably, we lost the Pope.) The news reports state that an errant welder's spark (and they're always errant) hit the old structure, which seriously was a firetrap just waiting to happen, what with the old wood and the tar paper and the n'hey, though you know theories of insurance money have floated around like so many cynical fire theories.

The irony, of course, is that the old Tea Party Ship Museum building had been closed and abandoned (with periodic hopes of restoration) since 2001, when it was damaged... by fire. Imagine Paul Harvey rolling his syllables and holding his pauses over that delicious punchline. And know you know the rest... of the story.

I was slightly late coming back from lunch because, hey, fire. People love to watch fires if it's not threatening them or or their property or those they love (remember, in 1776, the argument on the matter of independence was interrupted when the fire wagon raced down the street and our Founding Fathers all ran outside to watch.) But somehow I seemed to have a better perspective about my interior sweatbox when I returned. Hey, we may be sweating ourselves stinky, but at least we're not in flames. Yet.

Later on in the afternoon the thermostat decided to work again; the magic number it showed when it first popped on was 85.

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Comments:


From:katre50
Date:August 28th, 2007 02:17 pm (UTC)
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I still have memories (not _fond_ memories, mind) of the two days back in 2002 when the thermostat at the office broke. In July. I got i at 9:30 and it was in the 90s. It was over 100 by 2 pm. And I wasn't smart enough to just walk out the door when my boss said we needed to stay and work. Silly me.
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From:ron_newman
Date:August 28th, 2007 02:29 pm (UTC)
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In my office, when the A/C didn't work, we just propped the doors open, Didn't matter to anyone that they normally required card-reader access.
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From:derspatchel
Date:August 28th, 2007 04:12 pm (UTC)
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Our Facilities Manager put the kibosh on our plan. Because THE BAD GUYS MAY HAVE BROKEN THE THERMOSTAT JUST SO WE'D KEEP OUR DOORS OPEN AND THEY COULD COME IN AND... UH... STEAL THE STASH OF EARL GREY I HAVE ON MY DESK! OR OUR DEPARTMENT MAGIC 8-BALL!!
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From:derspatchel
Date:August 30th, 2007 12:08 pm (UTC)
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We pretty much use it for many important decisions within these cubes, which may or may not be saying something. Or a lot.
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From:tenlegspider
Date:August 28th, 2007 02:57 pm (UTC)
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I've had to dance in a stifling hot strip club. It was hideous until I got the idea to put an ice cube in the triangle at the back of my thong. That's all you need for blissful coolness, but harder to get away with in an office thanks to the damp patches. I think putting it next to your ankle might work if you don't mind damp socks.
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From:minkrose
Date:August 28th, 2007 04:20 pm (UTC)
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I've discovered that cold water on my eyebrows both keeps me cool and wakes me up - but I usually only used that trick during classes.


The A/C wasn't working last friday in the office but we could at least keep the doors open. It didn't really help much but it didn't get terribly stifling, just rather warm. Luckily, I had just happened to wear sandals instead of shoes and loose capri pants instead of long slacks. Yay intuition?
Of course, now it's working TOO well and we're all wearing sweaters again.
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From:mybadhairlife
Date:August 28th, 2007 04:50 pm (UTC)
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Your office situation sounds like the second or third circle of hell to me.

If it wasn't for the redemptive story about the fire and the magical self-repairing themostat, I might have had to curl into the fetal position and cry a little.
From:ruthling
Date:August 28th, 2007 05:08 pm (UTC)
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I would hope that had the office actually been on fire, they would have let you leave. Then again, I work for the government...
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From:derspatchel
Date:August 28th, 2007 05:27 pm (UTC)
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Apparently all the doors unlock if the fire alarm is going off. Also we've got a one-way exit door, apparently. But still, man. It was HOT.
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From:lixie
Date:August 28th, 2007 05:15 pm (UTC)
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I was actually working at your company during the first fire. The old location had the closest view. Lots of smoke into the night, lots of flashing lights. I know they were planning to rebuild, but it still makes me sad. I guess I'm fond of the place in a "DON'T GET HURT AGAIN" kind of way.

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