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Thermostat Wars

Somewhere, just somewhere, I want to be in charge of the thermostat.

I am caught in the crosshairs of thermostat wars wherever I go.  This irritates me to no end, as since I am at least nominally an authority figure both at home and at work, it seems like I ought to have at least a weighted vote on the matter.

At work, we have young women, middle aged women on both ends of the category ‘middle aged’ and one man, who is old enough to be the father of the middle aged women of all categories.  I tend to be hot natured – something I inherited from my father, who gives off heat in a way that increases the temperature of the room he is in.  My being middle aged and peri-menopausal has only served to make this worse.  One of us in the office is full blown menopausal, and prone to hot flashes that make a temperate room cause her to flush red with heat.  One of us is past all that and relatively cold natured.  The three young women just laugh at us.  My business partner, known as “Daddy Don” to everyone young enough to be his child, which is pretty much everyone who doesn’t qualify for social security, takes blood thinners as a result of some medical problems, and is therefore generally teeth-chatteringly cold.  So you can imagine the problems that result of these divergent needs.

My personal opinion is that those who are cold natured can always put on another sweater or a scarf, but there is only so much I can take off and still look professional.  Or decent.  I have taken to wearing tank tops under my jackets, but I really think the world is a better place if I keep my armpits and flabbety upper arms hidden from view.

I guess it would help if there were some sort of logical hierarchy in my office.  I’m the managing partner, which would lead one to believe that I manage something, but the truth is the only thing I manage is the accounting software.  I also manage to make it to Court on time.  That’s it.  Daddy Don is the senior partner, mostly because he pretty much knows everything there is to be known and there aren’t too many practicing attorneys more senior than him.  As Daddy Don works with six women, and has six daughters and a wife, he is used to not being able to tell anyone what to do.  Truth be told, as in just about any office, the ladies in the front office (which in our building is actually the back office) probably run the show for real.  Nothing can be done without them, that's for sure, whereas you can take or leave the rest of us.

The general consensus is that we should respect our elders and let Daddy Don rule the thermostat, since his health is the most important.  I guess I go along with this, since I haven’t made a pitiful show of pretend rank and over-ruled anything, or stamped my feet like a two year old.  This means, however, that when, out of curiosity, I wipe the sweat out of my eyes in order to look at the thermostat setting, I regularly see it at 77 degrees.  I admit that sometimes in moments of desperation I will turn it down to 75.

Then I get home.  My stay-at-home husband will often turn the thermostat down to 64 degrees while he is at home “running around.” (I am using his words here – were they mine, I would add the phrase “In circles.”)  Wearing my work clothes, which have to be short sleeved and light fabric-ed for survival purposes, I get goose bumps on my arms and legs in my house.

Living in North Georgia, you’d think I’d be used to this sort of fluctuation in temperature.  Last Monday, for example, my front porch thermostat registered 60 degrees.  It was sunny and beautiful.  On Tuesday, it was only 28 degrees and two inches of snow fell in my yard.  I’m pretty sure this is related to the fact that I almost always have the sniffles.  I guess I am acclimated to the fact that the outdoor temperature requires me to keep both summer and winter clothing in my closet at all times.  I just think/wish/figure I should be able to have some kind of control over the indoor temperature.  I’m crazy like that.

Then I think what a first-world, middle class baby I’ve become.  I mean, really, no one has ever died from spending a lot of time in either 64 degree or 77 degree weather.  I’m only vaguely uncomfortable.  I’m not living in a straw hut in the tropics or a moose-hide tent above the Arctic Circle.  Nor am I Scarlett O’Hara or her ilk, living in the deep south in the summer wearing 48 layers of petticoats and modest long sleeves and hats and wearing a corset that prevents me from getting a full breath.  No wonder they swooned and passed out all the time.

I’m old enough to remember when central air conditioning was a luxury item.  My husband grew up in Miami without air conditioning.  Daddy Don is old enough to remember when indoor plumbing and electricity were not de rigueur. How quickly we get used to things and expect them.  My kids find it intolerable that any indoor location would be without a wi-fi signal, despite the fact that when both of them were born it was a rarity.

Now, if you will excuse me, I’m at home, and therefore quite chilly, so I have to go put on another sweater.  Or maybe turn the heat up to 66 degrees.  I’m such a rebel.

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Colleen Walsh Fong February 05, 2014 at 05:01 PM
This describes my personal thermometer struggle to a tee!
Joanna Schneider February 06, 2014 at 02:37 PM
Lori, I laughed out loud several times with this. Much needed today. Thank you! Hope you're staying cool at work (and have a sweater at the ready for when you get home) :) I am posting this nationally today...thanks for sharing it! Will email you a link when it's published.
Carol Fine Hart February 06, 2014 at 04:40 PM
I laughed out loud too and can definately identify, except that my husband tends to push the temperature up sometime during the day while he is home alone. Sometimes I do not notice until I try to go to bed and it reads 75 degrees in our bedroom.
Meg McElroy February 06, 2014 at 10:24 PM
65 in winter (unless we are in single, windy digits) then I might go to 68 - getting old - definitely POST Menopause, lol, but no blood thinners! Wear layers in cold weather! Now hot; not so good! Luckily I work from home [have office for clients but that is at 68 year round, included in nominal rent and I have windows]. AC on 72 to relieve humidity at home office and I am not above using fans to keep air moving w/o central AC - just windows. On rare occasions in NE temp goes above 95 and humidity goes higher I will drop to 68. I'd ALWAYS rather be cold than hot! Just add a sweatshirt (or a fleece bathrobe since I see no one at home, lol). I opt for cold any day and on the rare occasions my office is too cold in hot weather, I open the window and let a little warm in. Sweaters, folks - then everyone can adjust as needed. Here's to Spring and moderate temps! Stay warm (or cool) as you need be.
Melissa L February 07, 2014 at 10:23 AM
I can feel your pain. Trying working at a place that has no heat! It sucks..... I stay sick but have to keep my job.. On some days it's warmer outside than it is on the inside. They give us 1 little oil heater to keep so called warm. Right now it's 58 degrees inside the office. I don't mind the cold but come on, we need some for of heat in the building! : z
Bryan Bentley February 07, 2014 at 03:04 PM
This is hilarious! I long ago learned not to touch the thermostat in my house. The woman of my house has complete control of the temperature, and it became a battle that I was just not interested in fighting. She can actually tell if I change it 1 degree. For the life of me, I still can't figure that one out. Every now and then, I will put it up or down a degree just to mess with her. She catches me every time, and she notices the change almost immediately. It is somewhat scary when I think about it.
Lori Duff February 07, 2014 at 03:09 PM
I am loving all these stories! Keep 'em coming! And yes, Bryan...never doubt the sixth (or seventh or eighth) sense of a woman on a mission............
Colleen Walsh Fong February 07, 2014 at 04:25 PM
It's a male dominated thermostat here. My husband loves the house good and cold at around 66 in the winter, but thinks 78-80 is ideal in summer. Hmmm...
kj February 08, 2014 at 05:00 PM
From a blog on Boston.com: Turn down the thermostat to lose weight - Health - Boston.com Recent research found that if we stay out of the "Goldilocks Zone" and keep the house colder in winter we activate beige fat which burns up to 30% more calories. http://www.boston.com/lifestyle/health/blogs/daily-dose/2014/01/29/turn-down-the-thermostat-lose-weight/MIlg7thWXLvwzqx1vb6ixI/blog.html "A recent study from Japan found that volunteers who spent two hours a day in 63 degree temperatures for six weeks experienced a significant decrease in body fat. A group of Danish researchers reported that people who spend six hours a day at cooler temperatures wind up adjusting after 10 days—shivering less and feeling more comfortable in the cold. " “Your body needs to burn calories to dissipate warmth to cool you down or to generate heat when you’re cold,” she explained. It’s when you’re in a Goldilocks climate—not too hot, not too cold—that your body requires the fewest calories to maintain your body temperature.
Lori Duff February 09, 2014 at 09:35 AM
Interesting. I suppose I'll use that as my excuse for excess body fat from now on. :-)

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