A Man, A Plan, A Fan
Sweltering. Just way
These days, California is
having rolling blackouts, due to the "power crisis."
Everyone has been told to do their part to conserve energy, particularly
businesses. Some seem to be taking it seriously, as I noticed
while passing a Walgreens drugstore this morning. There was a a
sign in the window, declaring:
- Walgreens is conserving
- SO THAT THERE MAY BE
- ENOUGH FOR ALL
Well, thanks, Walgreens,
although you could have been a little less, I dunno, dramatic about it.
I mean, that makes it sound like small children in Djbouti are sitting
glumly in their mud huts, when suddenly -- aaaaahhh-AAAAHHHHH!!!! -- all
their appliances and television sets and air-conditioning units
miraculously come to life, all thanks to Walgreens.
Anyway, we're not supposed
to have to worry about this here in Alameda, the Jewel of the East Bay,
because we actually have enough power to get by. Alameda Power
& Telecom never deregulated, and rates have not gone up like they
have in most of the rest of the state. Sure, for a while we were
still subject to blackouts, but it was kind of like we're just playing
along, humoring the rest of the state, kind of like when you play
hide-and-seek with a really young child, one who doesn't know how to
hide worth squat, and attempts to conceal himself behind, say, a bicycle
rack or chain-link fence. Anyway, recent restructurings in
Alameda's Power Management Doohickybob have all but ensured that we
won't even be affected by blackouts at all anymore.
Still, some businesses are
trying to conserve, most noticeably the construction office I'm working
in this week. This effort by my employers is admirable and stupid.
This is a tiny little office, and they could have everything in here
plugged in and running 24/7 and not so much as wobble the needles.
But someone got it into
their pointy little head that we should conserve here at the office, so
lights are constantly being switched off while people step out of their
offices, even for just a moment, and rather than run the AC, windows and
doors are opened, which is somehow supposed to keep things cool, an
interesting theory since it's completely sweltering out.
I've sat here all day in a
coma, both from the heat and lack of caffeine, because I dare not drink
any hot coffee since I'm already uncomfortably warm. My shirt is
stuck to me, my pants are stuck to me, and since my job consists of
calling architectural firms all day, the phone is stuck to me,
specifically, my face. Insects have taken advantage of the open
doors and windows, and fly lazily all over the office, until the heat
even gets to them, and they collapse and get stuck to me.
No one else seems to care
about the heat. The token big sweaty guy is sweatier (and stinkier)
than ever, and he's not even complaining. I'm not complaining
either, not in so many words, although I make it a point to pick up a
folder and flap it at my face whenever anyone walks by or talks to me,
and I make noises like "phew" and "jeezsh" and
"fhoo" in hopes they'll pick up the hint. If there isn't
a folder within reach, I'll grab anything to fan myself with. A
moment ago, I used one of those small-sized Post-It Notes. I even
fanned myself with a pencil at one point. But my visual clues fall
on deaf eyes. I am the only one who this heat seems to be getting
Well, I've had enough.
It's time to take a stand.
I go into the construction
shop and get a floor fan. It's one of those big industrial deals,
mounted on a heavy steel base. I grab hold and pull, feeling my
shoulder do something interesting as I try to pick it up. I have
to settle for dragging it along side me, using my leg to help push it
along the carpet.
Everyone watches as I
struggle to move it through the office. Fine, fine. Let 'em
watch. They've driven me to this, in fact, I'm glad they're
watching. This'll get my point across.
After about five minutes
of strenuous and awkward struggling, I get to the room I'm working in,
completely burning up now from the effort, and try to find somewhere to
plug it in. The only available outlet is behind the door, and due
to the incredibly short electrical cord that invariably comes on these
things, I wind up having to stretch it more or less taut in front of the
I smirk when I realize
that anyone entering the room will trip over the cord. Fine, fine.
Serves you right for making me sweat. My smirk slowly vanishes
when I realize that that, let's face it, the person most likely to trip
over it will be me. I'm a spaz, and my odds are not improved by
the fact that the lights in the office are out and I'd be stumbling
around in pitch-darkness anyway.
Still, I'm willing to take
the chance. Besides, I can't not go through with the
fan-plan now, everyone saw me dragging the thing through the office, it
would look stupid if I didn't turn it on and use it. I notice at
this point that I've gotten sawdust on my pants; the fan is
covered in it from being in the shop all the time. I brush it off,
or try to, but it's sticky and goopy, there's some kind of residue on
it, some industrial adhesive or compound or whatever construction
companies use to stick houses together. I struggle with my pants
for a while but give up and pretend it doesn't bother me. Hell,
I got lots more pants at home! my casual shrug informs my audience.
I turn on the fan, which
In the confines of the
office, it roars like a hovercraft propeller. Jesus, it's loud.
I peer at the dial, thinking it must be on the highest setting, but it's
actually on the lowest.
It still seems to be
powering up to full speed, getting louder and louder. They must
have known how loud this fan was, why didn't they say anything during
the five minutes it took me to wrestle this thing in here?
Bastards. Well, fine, f--
Over the din of the fan,
another noise can be heard. I turn and see that papers and plans
and printouts are being brutally yanked from desktops and walls and
bulletin boards and thrown all over the room. Dislodged pushpins
clatter down onto the desk and floor, a small, framed picture on the
desk tilts forward and then falls with a clack. Not to
mention the sawdust and sticky construction residue that was on the fan
blades, it mushrooms forth, filling the swirling air with tiny, sharp,
sticky particles. Well, maybe some of the flies will be impaled,
anyway. Besides, I ain't turning this sucker off and dragging it
back. No way. Nope.
Kay. Great. I
slowly sit down at the desk amid a storm of papers and flying wood
chips, a frozen smile on my face. Yes, this is just what I wanted. Nice
and cool now! No problem! 'Zactly what I was hoping for!
I can get back to work!
hurricane-force gales, I reach over and pick up the phone, dialing an
architectural firm. At first, the receptionist on the other end
can't make out what I'm saying to her over the clamor, and then she
can't make out what I'm shouting to her. I finally just
scream "Thank you!" and hang up.
Huh. Maybe the fan
wasn't such a hot idea.