Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The working life: Cold‏

I am always the coldest person in the room. No matter what, I am cold. Unless the room is overheated and everyone else is sweltering, in which case I am comfortable. But I am always cold. Which is even more reason that living in Milwaukee is a very, very bad idea for me.

I was fine this summer because we had record heat and a drought. Except that meant we had to use the a/c in our house or SH would have melted away in his upstairs office. Remember that heat rises. But work was OK and walking the 3/10 of a mile to the bus in the morning and waiting between one and ten minutes for the 5:51 bus to arrive was OK.

Then it started to get cold.

And I started to freeze at work. I was convinced that it was because they hadn't turned the heat on. After all, an organization that doesn't provide coffee and has about the worst group health insurance plan I have ever seen is probably not going to waste a lot of money on heat. 

I have sat at my desk swaddled in my long winter coat. I have sat at my desk with the logo'd blanket they gave us at some rah-rah meeting wrapped around my legs. I have been cold all day.

I was even colder - but not much! - as I walked to the bus. A camisole, tights, long wool coat, the hat that I lost on the bus and then found again - none of those were enough to keep me warm.

So yesterday, I took two drastic steps, one to address the walk to the bus stop issue and another to address the cold at work issue. 

I'll start with cold at work.

I went downstairs to see the one person you really, really want on your side after the IT people. If you are going to make cookies for anyone, make them for this guy. Better yet, make a double batch and give some to IT, because even if you don't need IT now, you will need them in the future when you accidentally delete all your work files and need them to pull the backup tape from the night before to restore your stuff. 

I went to talk to the guy in charge of maintenance. "Is the heat on?" I asked of the woman sitting at the front desk.

She didn't even look up from her papers. She just yelled, "Hal! This lady wants to know if the heat is on." Then she shook her head and kept marking her document.

Hal sighed. I guess he's heard this question before. "Let's check," he said. 

"I'm freezing," I said. "I've been freezing."

He nodded sympathetically. "I'm always cold, too." I looked at him. The reason he's always cold is because he's about 0.3% body fat. 

I do not have that excuse.

But we persevered. He pulled a thermometer out of his pocket. Shook it. We got to my desk. I looked at the thermometer. "Seventy four?" I asked. "It's not really 74 here."

"Seventy four point four," he noted.

"But it's freezing!"

He shook his head. "Sorry."

I sighed. He left. I opened the drawer with the blanket in it. Wrapped it around my legs. 

I told the story to a co-worker. She scoffed. "I don't believe it," she said. "That thermometer always says 74. I think they make it up."

So do I.

Perhaps the solution is to extend my walk to the bus solution, which is to wear sweatpants under my skirt. Such a flattering look, but you know what? At 6:50 a.m., I don't care how I look and I really don't care any more if my fashion sense impresses the other passengers on the bus.

So now I might just wear sweatpants all day long.


MomQueenBee said...

I have your solution: Rice bags. You know those flannel sacks filled with rice or barley or corn that you throw in the microwave for a few minutes, then they stay nice and toasty for hours? I have one in my drawer and it has saved me from crying winter tears that would freeze on my cheeks as I huddled at my desk. Also, the warm bag can be applied directly to the coldest body part--hands, neck, feet, wherever. Rice bag. Do it.

Gaylin said...

Oh, rice bags is an awesome idea!

I am lucky in that (as you know) I have a space heater by my desk, as well as a hot water bottle if I really need the extra boost. And polar fleece leg warmers under my pants.

I live in Vancouver, where last winter, we only went below freezing a couple of times, doesn't make any difference, I still get cold!

webb said...

somebody makes a "ceramic" heater that is about 8x8 inches - electric. if not prohibitively expensive take onein to work and put under your desk until someone tells you you can't have it. if your building is not really OLD, they shouldn't mind. (be sure to turn off at night and push back in a corner where prying cleaner eyes wont see it.)

and get your own thermometer. his push button one may not be accurate. 3 bucks at the hardware store and worth the investment.

good luck

Anonymous said...

I sit on a heating pad both at home and at work - it's perfect!

Lindy D. said...

I have a Land's End long sleeve silk undershirt that does the trick. It is SO light weight, but very warm... and made in Wisconsin.

Pam said...

At one workplace where they were real sticklers for the no-heaters rule, but my female boss was THE BOSS and also cold all the time, we each had a plug-in rubber floor mat for our feet, which was helpful. I imagine a heating pad would serve the same purpose, but this was facilities-approved. Good luck. I also wear fingerless gloves sometimes. (And I'm in TX. Danged A/C.)