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.