Wednesday, 30 April 2008

It's Hot As Hell In Here!

It’s not easy being the student representative for the maths department; every damn postgraduate mook wants you to lobby for them. Case in point: Danny and BT, who are annoyed about how hot the office has gotten. This leads to an oddly amusing half-hour of attempting to locate the University’s health and safety policy on temperature.

Danny: Hurry up, it’s getting hotter!

SS: It is not!

Danny: It is! The Thai Buddha thermometer you got me says so.

SS: I wouldn’t put too much faith into that thing; it cost me one-ninety nine from Woolworths. Plus, I’m pretty sure IBB broke it last week.

Danny: Just find the damn policy, would you?

SS: It’s pretty difficult to navigate.

BT: Nothing on temperature?

SS: No, although I can tell you our policy on chemical weapon attack, if you want.

Danny: We have a policy in case we get hit with Agent Orange?

SS: Yes. Also if we contract gastroenteritis, or if we get covered in amniotic fluid.

BT: What the Hell goes on in this university?

SS: Ah!

Danny: You got it?

SS: Maybe. It’s a check-list for office safety. Say, we’re not using razor-blades instead of scissors, are we?

BT: We try to keep sharp objects out of your reach.

SS: Very wise. We can tick that box, anyway.

Danny: Are you going to read the whole form?

SS: Wait! I’ve got it. The magic number for maximum temperature is… thirty degrees.

Danny: You’re kidding! We could open up a damn sauna. This is outrageous.

SS: The policy on amniotic fluid is pretty slap-dash, too.

BT: So we can’t get the university to do anything?

SS: They did install those tinted windows.

Danny: That just make the room darker.

SS: And those fans.

Danny: They just make the room louder.

BT: They’re also a hazard to paper work.

Danny: Do you have any work on paper?

BT: Shut up.

SS: If we can focus, the key aspect to all of this is: you’re boned.

Danny: But it’s hot as Hell!

SS: It’s only twenty-five degrees.

Danny: In April. In the North-East.

SS: Come back to me in June, then.

Danny: I’ll be a shrivelled, desiccated husk by then!

SS: We could turn off the computers.

Danny: We’re not allowed to turn off the computers.

BT: We could throw the computers out of the window; claim the insurance.

SS: Hypothetically speaking, BT, what would we write on the claims form?

BT: That the computers exploded from the heat.

SS: What, exploded, levitated, threw themselves out of the window, and smashed themselves on the ground?

A pause

BT: I’m starting to come around to this sauna idea.

SS: Ooh! We could grow tomatoes.

Danny: Or pineapples.

SS: Or opium.

BT: We could be drugs dealers!

Danny: Driving around in limousines with tinted windows.

SS: Haven’t we already decided that would just make it unbearably hot? We’d be halfway through hiring our first bunch of runners before we’d spontaneously explode, levitate, smash through the window, and throw ourselves to the ground.

BT: So what do you suggest?

SS: Erm, we check ourselves for gastroenteritis?

Our heroes exit, intent upon checking the firmness of their stools.


Pause said...

I remember a similar process of searching for the regulations, in our case for the minimum allowed temperature. We discovered that although they were in breach, no-one in charge cared because we were students. I hope you can take comfort knowing it wouldn't have made the slightest difference had you actually had a case to put forth.

The situation arose because, being the rep for a couple of years, and also the one on the student side in charge of our big refurbishment which left us with air conditioning, it was up to me to learn how said unit worked. Or more precisely, to determine by some magic what model it was, in order to find the instructions for it on the interweb, in order to learn how it worked, because we weren't left any, and being presented with an array of buttons labelled only by small monochrome pictures, each of which does something different depending on what other buttons have been pressed previously yet takes a good five minutes to produce noticeable results from any given depression, made the deduction process rather bothersome. I now understand what my parents went through upon being presented with microwaves/video recorders somewhere back in the mists of time.

In any case, even with the instructions we couldn't figure it out, for it seemed nothing we did worked. Ours was the opposite problem: the cooling was fine, but there was very rarely any heating when it was cold (a major concern considering the main boiler died anything up to four times a week and the radiators only worked alternate days on opposite sides of the building). Mysteriously, the same system that had been installed on the floor below, at the same time, was working intermittently but still slightly more often that ours, which had the tendency to cut out on the rare occasions it did produce something resembling warmth.

Eventually, with the help of the School administrator and a phone call to the engineers who installed it, we determined that by some completely impenetrable and incomprehensible magic our aircon unit had been installed "on the same circuit" as the one on the floor below. Meaning, in short, that if they turned theirs up too high, ours turned itself off. Or better, produced only an unpleasant draught.

Many entertaining postgraduate committee meetings ensued.

SpaceSquid said...

Actually, I skipped the part where I discovered the WHO recommends a max temperature of 24C (I couldn't find a way to make it funny). I mentioned this the the HoD, but you're right, I'm not particularly sanguine about the chances of change.

When will humanity wake up to the danger of heating systems run in parallel?