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A Man, A Plan, A Fan

Sweltering.  Just way hot today.

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 energy...

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 to.

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 doorway.

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 goes, "rrrrrrRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR"

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!

Fighting the 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.