Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Cool Feet

The Dilemma

The AC in the office failed. The email went around that it would be awhile before it was fixed. We all suffered quietly in our cubes with ice packs and oscillating fans, except for one.

Leslie in Accounting seemed completely comfortable. I passed by her cube on several occasions, not seeing anything that would account for her absolute contentment. Then it caught my eye. The Fellowes Climate Control Footrest quietly cooled her from the soles up underneath her desk, the massage bumps on the footrest adding additional comfort as she typed away in bliss...

“You know, cooling your feet actually lowers your overall body temperature,” I heard someone say behind me. It was Hank from Acquisitions.

“Yeah, so.”

“I’m just saying, that’s a pretty nice climate control footrest Leslie has.” Hank said. “You know, it even has massage bumps.”

“I know I saw the massage bumps--What difference does it make, it’s hers.”

“Well...”Hank looked left then right mysteriously, “I have an idea.” He led me to a remote corner of the supply room and whispered quickly. “Look, Leslie goes on vacation tomorrow--one week, that’s one week the Fellowes Climate Control Footrest remains unused.”

“So what are you saying?”

“I’m saying.” He cleared his throat. “We borrow it.”

“Are you crazy? She’ll find out.”

“How’s she going to find out? She’ll be gone. We return it before she gets back. Get in, get out-nobody gets hurt. It’s the perfect plan, and it’s just between the two of us.”

“Why not just take it yourself.”

“Because...” he again looked side to side, “this makes us co-conspirators.”

“Maybe I don’t want to be a co-conspirator.”

“You’re telling me you don’t want to feel the cooling satisfaction of the Fellowes Climate Control Footrest blowing a chilly breeze between your toes? Taking away all your stress and discomfort, lulling you into a perfect state of happiness...”

“Okay, okay, I’ll do it. But this plan better work.”

It was the first and only time I ever high-fived Hank.

The Caper
Tuesday 9:15 am: We snuck through the cubes, department by department. Hank shrunk down behind the copier to make sure the coast was clear. Then we made our move. I was the lookout while Hank unplugged the Fellowes Climate Control Footrest.

He pushed in Leslie’s chair to make it appear nothing had been disturbed. He held the footrest to his chest and quickly walked down the hall in the direction of his cube.

I hurried behind him, grabbed him by the arm and yanked him into the men’s room. ”Wait a minute,” I said. “Who gets the Fellowes Climate Control Footrest first?’

He held the footrest tightly like a newborn. “Well, it was my plan.”

“But I’m your co-conspirator.”

Hank held tightly to the footrest shaking his head. Then I had an idea. “Rock paper scissors.” I declared.

It was well known that Hank was cursed and had not won rock paper scissors since the third grade. But I had called it, and Hank had no choice but to submit to the challenge.

After his expected defeat, he reluctantly handed over the Fellowes Climate Control Footrest. “But you only get one hour,” he demanded.

A Brief Moment of Comfort
At my cube, I plugged in the Fellowes Climate Control Footrest. It had two height settings, so I could set it to the perfect angle. I turned on the cool setting and felt the nice cold breeze circulate around my feet. It had two heat settings also, so if I wanted, I could achieve perfect climate control all year round. I moved my feet so the massage bumps could do their work. I imagined myself inside a snow globe, the stress turning to snow flurries and drifting away....

That’s when I heard her behind me: “Did you say that footrest gives heat?”

I spun in my chair, flustered. It was Admin Harriet. She stood trembling with a sweater around her shoulders at the entrance to my cube. Harriet had a dysfunctional internal thermostat and could wear tweed in the tropics and still be chilly.

Apparently in my bliss I had been speaking out loud, “I-I don’t know...”

“Look, I know its Leslie’s,” Harriet said bluntly.

“But, but...”

“it’s okay, I don’t care. But I want in. It’s freezing by me. I need the Fellowes Climate Control Footrest warming my toes. I can just imagine it in the winter after walking across that icy parking lot...” I’ll tell you what. You can have my lunch. You love my potato salad.”

“But I need to get it to Hank soon.”

“Please,” she batted her eyelashes, “I’m so cold.”

Giving in with a sigh, I unplugged the precious Fellowes Climate Control Footrest and proceeded to take it to Harriet’s cubicle.

That’s when Hank suddenly blocked my path: “where are you going with that?”

“Harriet wants it.”

“Harriet?” Hank was stunned, then angry. “When did Harriet get involved? Anyway, it’s my turn with the footrest. Give me that!”

A struggle ensued outside my cube, the Fellowes Climate Control Footrest wrestled between us. Suddenly, Hank lifted his line of vision to the horizon, out through the office windows, out to the parking lot, as if he could sense her coming from a great distance. “Oh no, it’s Leslie!” he cried.

He could see her car coming. We would learn later that Leslie had been called back from her vacation for an urgent project. In addition to her distress at finding her Fellowes Climate Control Footrest missing, she would also be grumpy at having to cancel her time off. Heads would roll!

There was no time to waste. Hank tossed the footrest into a mail cart and the three of us rushed it like an organ transplant to Leslie’s cube, veering around corners, nearly tipping the cart at one point. We finally reached her cube. Hank quickly plugged it in. He adjusted it to her height setting. He had memorized every detail, bumping his head on the desk as he tried to get out before it was too late.

Leslie stood staring at the three of us panting out of breath outside her cube. “What’s wrong with you guys?” She said. She just shook her head, not waiting for an answer. She sat down in her chair, flipped of her shoes and switched on her footrest, releasing a contented sigh.

We wandered back to our cubes, defeated. “She seems so comfortable,” Hank said, wiping the sweat from his forehead with his sleeve.

‘Maybe someday we can all have our own Fellowes Climate Control Footrest,” Harriet said shivering.

Hank thought dreamily about what was possible. “ A cool setting, two heat settings, adjustable height settings, massage bumps---imagine, each one of us determining our own climate control, achieving our own personal comfort at our toe tips...”

We all pondered the possibilities. “Comfort at our toe tips...”

Too hot or too cold in your office? Tell me your stories of out-of-control office thermostats.

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