Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Time and Temperature

Due to increasing road congestion several months ago, our vanpool decided to start leaving earlier. While I dreaded the prospect of extracting myself from bed even one nanosecond earlier than usual, I agreed that getting to work in a timely fashion was important enough to make the sacrifice.

It was upon making this change that I realized the clock in the van is woefully slow. About 7 minutes slow. Like any good liberal, all my clocks are of course in sync with my local NPR affiliate. If Jim Bell tells me it's 6:01, then it's 6:01, dammit. I've thought about how I could change the clock without anyone knowing it was me, but since I don't even have a set of keys and tend to be a vannie-come-lately, my chances are slim. I think all I can do is wait around for Daylight Saving Time and elbow anyone in my path to get to that clock.

Directly above the slowest clock ever is an oversized four-knob instrument panel that regulates cabin temperature. There are two, and only two, climates that can be maintained using the aforementioned knobs: Nuclear Winter and Roast.

Since we're all a bunch of Texas weenies who scramble for the scarves and mittens when the temperature drops below 65 degrees, when we get on the van in the mornings we pump up the heat. Which means we basically spend the first 10 minutes in the van chilled through and rocking back and forth to generate a few BTUs, then the next 45 seconds comfortably warm and toasty, and the following 8 minutes feeling the flesh melt off our bones until a fellow rider tells someone in the front "Okay, I think we're all cooked to about medium, medium-well now" at which point the heat is turned off and we're cold again.

The worst of the four knobs is the one labeled "Floor." This knob enables the user to direct either arctic winds or skin-parching blasts of air from the 4th circle of Hell directly at passenger feet. Now, even on the best of days, a person's footwear smells less than inviting. The addition of an external heating element to an old worn out pair of shoes can fill the cabin with the sharp musky odor of baked footwear. Eww. The Floor setting can radiate enough heat that I once arrived at work to retrieve a partially thawed Lean Cuisine from my bag that I (foolishly) left on the van floor.

Climate controlling a bunch of whiny working stiffs is a miserable, thankless, and indeed impossible task.

No comments: