Fall as arrived. The leaves are beginning to change colour. The air has a fresh chill to it. The stagnant, humid and stifling air of summer is no more. That also means the cold days of summer are finally over. Yes, I wrote that correctly: the “cold” days of summer. I work in an office. Come summer, the thermostat gets set at something close to minus freezing. This is to ensure that a “normal” room temperature is achieved. At least, that is what the men in the building say. I’ll give you a replay of a “summer day” at my work.
I have just gotten out of my air conditioned car (see, I don’t mind air conditioning) and I’m headed toward the front door of the office building where I work. The air is thick with mugginess. My straightened hair has begun to curl from the humidity. My lacquered toes are peeping out from my strappy light pink sandals. I am wearing a floral calf length summer dress. It’s blowing breezily around my legs as the hot air blows around me. As I open the front door to the building my breath catches in my throat. The air is frigid. Holy smokes I’ve walked into a meat locker! Nope, nope, my mistake. It definitely is my place of work. I walk slowly toward my desk. I am attempting to keep the warm air of the outdoors upon me as a shield until I can make it to my desk. The final destination has emergency provisions in order to ensure regular blood flow and circulation thus halting any impending hypothermia.
My legs begin to stiffen. My breathing is becoming shallower. “KEEP MOVING!” yells my brain. I finally make it to my desk and slump into my chair. Blessedly my “office sweater” is still there. I shakily take it off the back of the chair and slide first my left, then my right arm into the long knit sleeves. The ice that was beginning to form has now begun to melt. I am grateful for my office sweater.
The office sweater is a special garb. It can be purchased in any store, but Walmart, Sears, Target are good places. You could even pick one up at a charity store like the Salvation Army or Goodwill. It needs to be soft because itchy sweaters don’t feel too good on ice cold body parts. It is usually a large or extra large size making it more or less a one size fits all. This is imperative as it will undoubtedly need to accommodate other women (sufferers) in the office. This is especially certain during those times when someone has brought an office sweater home to wash it and has forgotten to return with it. YOUR office knit will save their life. Pockets, on this coveted article of clothing, are a bonus. This is the receptacle for your facial tissue (due to dripping nose syndrome) and perhaps even lip balm. You will eventually discover you have dry lips due to the chattering of your lips and harsh breaths you will inhale in order to maintain your status as a member of the living.
After putting on my office sweater, I reach under my desk and turn on my space heater. As the coils start to glow red, I begin to have feeling in my toes. The numbness in my toes has abated. I happily wiggle my little piggies. It feels so good. I can feel the heat on them now. My fingers have changed from the blue hue to a lovely pink vibrant and healthy colour. I pull up the sleeves on my office sweater…to my wrists only…and turn on my computer. If the sleeves went up any higher my arms would hit the slab of a cold desk and ice me out. There needs to be a buffer of warmth against the chillness of the desk. After the anti-thaw ritual, I can now begin my workday.
During the course of the day, I will get up to visit the ladies room. This particular room does not seem to get affected by the office temperature. It’s a nice neutral room, but you can’t stay there forever. My red legs (from the space heater) work as a shield as I walk around the office space. Its defensive properties last about 3.17 minutes. After that there are no guarantees. I would liken it to an astronaut being lost in space. Eventually the atmosphere will get you and kill you. Getting back to your ship, a.k.a. desk, is the only way to survive.
I have visitors on especially hot summer days. The OWNS (OWNS = Ones With No Sweater) announce their arrival at my desk with the loud chattering of their teeth. They stand huddled together around my chair. We breath sighs of relief as the heat emanates gloriously from beneath my desk. The steady warmth can be felt for up to a two-foot circumference. Colour returns to cheeks and lips. Arms and legs begin to move more freely. There is much rejoicing after the thaw.
This may sound like a tall tale, a complete fabrication. I thought this scourge was only experienced by the females at my workplace. Then one day, whilst surfing the [inter]net, I saw THIS documentary.
So here it is…the season of fall. That time of year when the grand decision is made to ceremoniously unlock the thermostat and transition the office atmosphere from “frosty” to “toasty”. Ladies! Put away the communal office sweater. Let it hibernate majestically for another year! Now for closing prayer:
Thank you to the sweater gods
Who clothed and warmed our chilly bods
May office warmth be here to stay
So we can live another day.
Hallelujah! We have survived another Cold War and we are grateful.