Working in the Doldrums

“Gasp! There is no air in this office! Why is it so hot? I’m about to smother. I don’t know why it is, but the air just doesn’t circulate around here.” Actually, it wasn’t so much the heat as it was that there was no air worth breathing.

“I think I’m in a ‘dead zone’.” Large office buildings seem inexplicably difficult to evenly cool and heat. Other places in the building have air flowing freely. You can feel the difference when you go to different parts of the building where gentle breezes drift through your hair.

But, at my desk — nothing.

Not that I wanted my papers blowing away in a hurricane, but I really needed enough fresh air to stay awake without drinking a gallon of coffee per day.

It did no good to call maintenance. I had been through that before. “Air, you want air? I’ll give you air!” Then it is below zero for a week or two while I shaked, shuddered and sneezed until I finally had to call them to come turn it off.

There was something strange about that part of the building anyhow. As soon as you came around the corner, you could feel the difference. The air felt heavy, unmoving, stifling, like it was dead. Dead air? Maybe we should have hung a shroud, and declared it a no man’s land.

It was something about the way the air circulateed through the ventilation system, I believe. We were in the doldrums of the building. Everything cames together in our little corner of the world. Like the southern hemisphere meeting the northern hemisphere, the currents slammed into each other and stopped in their tracks.

We were the Bermuda triangle of office buildings. Somehow the engineers just didn’t figure things out exactly right. We had the same vents and thermostats as every one else, but were still cursed with stagnant, unmoving air. We were sort of the ancient mariners of the office world, so to speak, air currents all around us, but not a breath to breathe.

Speaking of triangles, I’ve heard that inside the tombs of Ancient Egypt, the air is so stale and devoid of oxygen that you cannot light a match. It will go out. Some people think it is the curse of the Ancient Pharaohs. Others think it is simply the complex pattern of tunnels that prevent air from flowing normally.

We had a pretty complex maze of office cubicles too, and some pretty tall cubical walls that don’t help much with air circulation. It was not the curse of anything ancient; however, it was the curse of modern office ergonomics and egos that equated taller office walls with higher status.

I finally brought a fan from home and put it at the point where the horse latitudes began, creating my own mini-trade winds. It worked pretty well pulling in fresh air from the parts of the building that were not cursed and blowing it straight into the dead zone.

If you hear of a mysterious, unexplained disappearance, you will know what happened. The wind patterns in the office shifted for some unexplained reason and a funnel cloud formed and carried me away.

Actually, that might not be such a bad thing. As long as they had computers in Oz, I could finally get some work done without smothering.

Copyright 2011 Sheila Moss

About Sheila Moss

My stories are about daily life and the funny things that happen to all of us. My columns have been published in numerous newspapers, magazines, anthologies, and websites.
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