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.