Carbon Offsets II

Das Boot (1981)

The company for which I work is located in an otherwise normal seeming building in downtown Washington, D.C., but it’s apparently up-to-code circa 1970s exterior belies a decrepit, crumbling cinder block. The HVAC has gone out somewhere between five and ten times this year. Most immediately, the air conditioning has been out for the last two days — it’s nominally back on today but they must be finessing it and we are loosing ground against the in-pouring solar radiation. The building is a greenhouse. Despite its being in the 90s, at least outside there’s a slight breeze. Inside it’s just dead, sweltering air. I’m in a cube near the window — a window that like in Office Space is mostly obscured by my cubical wall — so it’s particularly hot in my area. It’s like Das Boot in here: we’re dead in the water, stripped to our bare torsos, streaked in diesel fuel and struggling to work in the thinning, stagnant air.

Central HVAC is supposed to be this great civil engineering panacea, but despite decades of experience, I have yet to work in a place where the HVAC system operated well. As a result, employees all take illicit measures. At one point last winter the building management felt the need to reminded the company that the terms of the lease prevented employees from possessing individual space heaters. The accounting / admin. manager sent one of his minions around the office with a giant box to collect up all the offending heaters. But then, just a few weeks later the heat in the building conked out. It was only a matter of time before employees were at the accounting manager’s office door militating for their space heaters back.

So as long as I’m offering my own self up for sale as a carbon offset, I should add to the menu of offsets on offer, that if you are galloping through energy keeping your environs a comfortable, neutral temperature, kick a few bucks my way and I will sit around like our ancestors of generations, exposed to temperatures unregulated by the products of human ingenuity.