Still half-awake from a terrible night’s sleep in my non-air conditioned home, I slowly waddled through the empty parking and into the office. Muscle memory took over for my compromised motor functions as I scanned my badge to unlock the entrance and took an immediate right to walk up the stairs. Halfway to the second floor I crossed through the invisible border of cold conditioned air of the first floor into the muggy hot air of the second floor. It didn’t take a college education or 27 years of life experience to deduce that the air conditioning on the second floor wasn’t working.
I unpacked my computer, made a cup of coffee, filled my water bottle, and reluctantly placed my damaged soul into the metaphorical vice that is working in a cube, and let the forces of a corrupt capitalistic society chip my personality into fragments used to build a castle of nihilism.
The hot humid air in the building hung over my fat insulated body and beads of sweat formed on my forehead. I reached to my desk fan and turned it on, cooling me off at a temperature that remained uncomfortable but bearable.
I wear a sweater vest over a dress shirt which is over an undershirt every day, regardless of the season. As a fat guy, the extra heat from sporting three layers in the summer is a small price to pay for wearing a comfortable vest that covers up my fat rolls and muffin top that pours over my waist. I already suffer from the feeling of constantly being stared at when walking around the office, mostly due to my crippling insecurities, but also due to the resting face of sadness I have been told on many occasion that I have. On a hot day like today in an office free of air conditioning, the looks are intensified as I am wearing the attire that most reserve for colder weather.
As the mindless network TV watching middle aged sheep made their way into the office, the complaints started flying indiscriminately through the air like the bullets from Dutch’s gun as he sprayed them into the jungle blindly hoping to hit the alien monster in the movie Predator.
“We might as well work outside as its colder out there than it is in here.”
“How do they expect us to work in these conditions?”
“I am going to pack up and go work from home.”
The vitriol that came with the complaints would suggest they were treated like Chinese children making iPhones in an assembly line against their will.
“Geesh, is it hot enough for you?” a co-worker asked rhetorically as he rolled up his sleeves while walking past my desk.
I ignored the man and tried to focus on the podcast playing in my ear. Instead of hoovering around the coffee machine commiserating with them, I stayed at my desk and actually did my job. While completing my tasks I needed to make a phone call to resolve an issue, so I put on my headset and waited on hold for a customer service representative as I continued working.
My desk location right next to the break room often makes me the victim of excruciating small talk. Many co-workers wander over to me while their coffee is being made to kill time.
Even with my headset on, my phone clearly showing I was on a call, and the fact that I was doing three different things on my computer, a co-worker who couldn’t endure the nearly impossible task of talking to no one in the 28 seconds it takes for the Keurig machine to make their coffee, walked up behind me. I could feel her presence but I ignored her thinking she would see the obvious signs of a person engrossed in their work.
The knuckle of this woman wrapped on the metal edge of my cube.
Maybe she actually has a work related issue she needs to discuss with me I thought. If she went through the effort of getting my attention while I was clearly busy doing several things, it must be a pressing problem. I finished the sentence I was typing in the email and pulled my headset to the side to uncover my ear to listen to what she needed to say.
“Are you hot in that sweater?” she asked.
The question that was on so many people’s mind was finally asked. Instead of explaining why I wear a sweater vest everyday like I have therapeutically done in this post I said “yea, it’s pretty hot in here today.”
As the gurgling sounds of the Keurig came out of the break room, alerting her that the single serving of coffee has been made, she left my side not knowing that she had just ruined my day.