THEY THINK I'M CRAZY, but I'm not. Really. They don't believe me. They think I'm imagining it. I'm not. It makes sense. After all, they have turned up the thermostats. They say it's 78, but it's not. I know. It's 123 or something. They think I'm crazy, but I'm not, I'm only hot.
Soon the man will come again. Every day they send me a man in overalls. He will come into my little glass cubicle and take the temperature again. It is like a daily visit from a nurse. He will look down at me sitting at my desk and he will smile and he will say, as they always do, "76 degrees. Prefect," and then walk out. Seventy-six degrees my foot. I'm hot.
The men have been coming to see me for more than a week now. At first they took me seriously and played with the thermostat on the ceiling. They would unlock it and peek at it and then stick something into it to make it hiss. The first guy who did that said he was going to make me hot. He said that if I was hot and uncomfortable I would write an article exposing the oil companies. I promised him I would do that if he would keep me cool. I want to keep my promise: The oil companies are ripping us off. There, I wrote it.Turn down the thermostat. I'm hot.
Soon, other men came. They all had thermometers. They put the thermometers on my desk and waited. I didn't know if I should talk or move around. They told me it was all the oil companies' fault. I said I knew. I said I was about to expose them. I buddied up to the man with the thermometer. I know how to do this. I have practiced on gas station attendants. I talk about bowling - that sort of thing. They all love me.
The vice president in charge of air conditioning at The Washington Post, Roger (natch), walks around with no tie and his short collar out over his jacket collar. He looks like a waiter or a Hawaiian tour guide. He is very patriotic and is showing us all how to muddle through. He thinks this is the Battle of Britain or something. It's not. It's America. My Grandmother did not walk halfway across Europe so I could die of heat prostration in a Washington office building. I think I will do a column about Roger's sex life.
Lately, the men who come into my office talk very slowly to me. I know what they're doing. They are humoring me. I don't think they even use real thermometers anymore. They use one that always registers 76 degrees. They think I'm crazy and it's not hot. It is hot. They are always taking the temperature when it's not hot. I tell them that and they nod and say, "Sure, sure." It is the same when I bring my car in to be serviced because it's making a noise. It never makes the noise when the mechanic is listening. I told the man with the termometer that. He smiled and said, "sure, sure."
Just the other day, they brought in a man to measure my air flow per minute. If I flunked, I would hold out for a bucket of ice for my feet, but a fan would do nicely. The man is what is called an outside consultant. What he did before the oil companies and Roger conspired to make my life a living hell, I will never know. All I know is what he does now.
What he does now is take something that looks like the business end of a vacuum cleaner, and hold it to where the air allegedly comes out of the ceiling. There is a meter attached to this device and when the men held it to the ceiling, the needle barely moved - like an applause metter for Jimmy Carter. He shook his head and said that I did not have the proper air flow per minute. I felt vindicated. He said I could have my fan. Ah, sweet triumph.
I told people about it. I was getting a fan. I went around to all the offices and said I was getting a fan. I wondered about the color and whether I should get one that turned or one that did not turn. I was thinking of this when yet another company vice president paid me a visit. This one is in charge of fans. He said I was not getting one.
He said more than that. He fixed me with his eyes and said more or less that they were sick of me. My air flow per minute was excessive. I was getting more than I was entitled to. He said that. He made it sound as if I was taking it from poor people or babies. He said that every time they checked my office, the temperature was under 76 degrees. I might think I was hot, but I was not. Case closed.
But I am hot. I am hot all the time. I pretend now that I'm not, but I am. I am hot outside and I am hot inside and once again I question the wisdom of G. Washington, soldier, statesman and real estate slickie, for locating the capital here instead of, say, Martha's Vineyard. Meanwhile, the engineers keep coming by. They give me the eye.They talk slowly to me, ask me if I'm still hot. I say I'm not. I've heard this tone of voice before - in hospitals and insane asylums and when I was a kid and complained that my foot hurt: "Of course, it hurts," my mother would say.
It's that same tone of voice. They think I'm crazy. Maybe I am. Who could blaem me? After all, it's so