how to defeat airconditioning?
June 7, 2006 6:38 AM   Subscribe

Help me not freeze to death in the next four and a half hours.

I am in a heavily airconditioned building. I cannot control the airconditioning. I mistakenly wore a skirt and a t-shirt so I am sitting and shivering. I need to be here for the next 4.5 hours.

What can I do to be at least slightly comfortable here? (so far, I have made legwarmers out of newspaper. That helped a tiny bit)
posted by mustcatchmooseandsquirrel to Grab Bag (33 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
forgive me: I just pictured a 300 lb. hairy guy in a skirt with newspaper legwarmers.

Can you tape anything over the air conditioning vent over your work space?
posted by mecran01 at 6:44 AM on June 7, 2006

Call building maintenance and ask that the HVAC in your working area be adjusted ASAP.
posted by Carol Anne at 6:45 AM on June 7, 2006

Response by poster: The vents are all on the ceiling and there are many of them. I don't think it would go over well.
posted by mustcatchmooseandsquirrel at 6:46 AM on June 7, 2006

1) that's their job. (if redirecting vents is in order)
2) that's their job. (if merely changing the thermostat is in order)

Is the whole building freezing? HVAC problem. Do you feel a draft? move a little; it's amazing how much difference a few feet can make.
posted by notsnot at 6:49 AM on June 7, 2006

Best answer: I mean this in earnest. Relax.

Take a few moments and let yourself be cold. I find that the more I fight being cold, the colder I get. If you accept that you are going to be cold, you'll warm up a bit. Silly, but true.

Also, get some hot coffee, asap.
posted by milarepa at 6:51 AM on June 7, 2006

Best answer: * Drink coffee or tea.
* Run to a nearby store and buy a sweater.
* Borrow a sweater from a co-worker.
* If you use a laptop, work with it on your lap.
* Ask the building maintenance to turn the thermostat up for a little while.
* Ask to switch cubicles for the day with a co-worker who works by a window (assuming it's sunny where you are).
* Find a photo of a beach online, make it your monitor background, and think warm vacation-y thoughts.
* Take a sick day.
* Ask to work from home.
* Walk around a lot, even if you have no real reason to. Tuck a file folder under your arm and look like you have to be somewhere quickly.
* Work in a conference room where you have access to the ac vents.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 6:51 AM on June 7, 2006

Response by poster: This is a building on a college campus where I am a student employee - calling maintenance wouldn't do anything. I usually don't work in this building so I forgot that the airconditioning here feels like it is trying to turn bones to ice.

Tried to set the computer background to a beach but it just reverted back to the default "Computing Services" notice. ):
posted by mustcatchmooseandsquirrel at 7:00 AM on June 7, 2006

Go and wash your hands in the coldest possible water that the taps have to offer (and feet as well, if you can manage it). Make them as cold as possible, then wait for 10 mins. The blood rushing to your hands and feet will make you feel toasty warm in no time.

Either that, or find a window with sunshine coming in, and sit in the sunshine.
posted by gaby at 7:10 AM on June 7, 2006

Use the heated "hand dryer" in the bathroom to defrost! Find out if there is a lost and found and find something that fits. Call a friend on campus and ask her to deliver something.
posted by FeistyFerret at 7:11 AM on June 7, 2006

I've frequently been in that situation - brrrr...

Check with neighbors that work nearby - secretaries, graduate students, even a prof. Ask if anyone would please let you borrow a space heater - many such employees have that for days such as that.
posted by Wolfster at 7:13 AM on June 7, 2006

Best answer: Depending on how tight your t-shirt is, stuff something under your t-shirt, particularly around your belly. You could try newspaper, though it's kind of scratchy. I've seen Tour de France cyclists doing this.

Cover your head! Anybody got a hat? Or can you fashion one?

Also, wrapping yourself in plastic is surprisingly useful. I survived a rather cold night outdoors on Catalina Island sleeping in a trash bag.
posted by Mercaptan at 7:30 AM on June 7, 2006

I too work in a meat locker of an office. It can be at times challenging, and by that I mean disputes always break out over the temperature (one of my coworkers in pregnant and the other menopausal and need it colder) and others have poor circulation and need it warmer. Myself, I came to realize that I one day (could) become pregnant) and one day will be menopausal and what my coworkers are going through is not fun. I keep a sweater at work to compensate for the coldest of days but find that mental diversion works best.

I try and relax as milarepa noted. It really works. As do warm beverages. I listen to whatever high paced play list I have on my ipod and find that I "groove" at my desk. I also dive right into my work which requires a lot of mental athletics. After a while I tend to forget that I am freezing my arse off and growing icicles off my earlobes.
posted by verveonica at 7:35 AM on June 7, 2006

I've never done it with cold water, as gaby suggested, but usually I run really hot water over my pulse points to warm up. Also, I think you should call maintenance anyway; it's worth a shot. And maybe lie and claim to be the new admin assistant named Marcy, if you're worried that they won't take you seriously. They'll probably not even ask if you use an authoritative complain-y tone. Also, take deep slow breaths for about 4 minutes. It really helps with the shivering, and if you're not shivering you won't think that it is as cold.
posted by unknowncommand at 7:38 AM on June 7, 2006

I usually get a hot cup of coffee or tea and hold onto it with both hands to keep myself warm. I also sit on my legs.
posted by elvissa at 7:39 AM on June 7, 2006

mustcatchmooseandsquirrel writes "This is a building on a college campus where I am a student employee"

Give the health office or security a call, they maybe able to lend you a blanket.
posted by Mitheral at 7:47 AM on June 7, 2006

Response by poster: I ran to the student union to get coffee and ran back. That warmed me up for a bit.

I considered buying something warm at the union's store but everything there cost over $30.

When I start shivering again I am going to cover myself in plastic. Or do pushups.
posted by mustcatchmooseandsquirrel at 7:55 AM on June 7, 2006

Do those things before you start shivering, use the heat that will otherwise already have leaked away.
posted by biffa at 8:25 AM on June 7, 2006

If you have the cash on you, perhaps you could buy a jacket at the student union and then just return it after your shift. It's not exactly like you're going to sweat in it or get it dirty.
posted by hermitosis at 8:32 AM on June 7, 2006

Best answer: Go into the stairwell and run up and down the stairs a few times. Anything to get your blood pumping will warm you up a bit.
posted by clarkstonian at 8:34 AM on June 7, 2006

Ditto on the buy a sweatshirt and return it. If you don't have the cash, can you charge it to your AR bill?
posted by radioamy at 8:39 AM on June 7, 2006

I drink tea when I'm in that situation.
posted by matildaben at 8:45 AM on June 7, 2006

Buy some bottled water, empty it and fill with hot tap water and place between your legs or between your back and the chair.
posted by 517 at 9:23 AM on June 7, 2006

Spicy food used to be my savior when I worked in a terribly cold office. Thai, Indian, Mexican...anything with chiles, which increase blood flow/improve circulation.
posted by desuetude at 10:16 AM on June 7, 2006

Find the thermostat and cool it somehow, either by setting a cup of ice water on top of it, or taping a plastic bag full of ice to it, or something like that.
posted by ikkyu2 at 10:18 AM on June 7, 2006

got any Vodka? 140 million Russians can't be wrong. If anyone accuses you of being drunk you can just tell them you are delirious from the cold.

Yeah I know I know, alcohol actually lowers your body temperature but by that point who cares?
posted by any major dude at 10:23 AM on June 7, 2006

Does anyone else find it hilarious that mustmatchmooseandsquirrel marked SuperSquirrel's response as best answer? The squirrel was caught!
posted by jdroth at 10:34 AM on June 7, 2006

"Depending on how tight your t-shirt is, stuff something under your t-shirt, particularly around your belly. You could try newspaper, though it's kind of scratchy. I've seen Tour de France cyclists doing this."

This very well may help, because newspaper is decent insulation. However, I should point out that this practice in cycling is mostly to block the wind on cold, mountain descents, not for insulation. In that sense, this won't help all that much. Unless, of course, you work in abnormally windy office.
posted by dseaton at 10:49 AM on June 7, 2006

Is this legal? I don't know about the US, but in the UK workplaces have legal temperature limits (high and low). It seems crazy that you're allowed to subject people to temperatures cold enough to make them freeze when dressed in clothes suitable for the season.
posted by wackybrit at 11:00 AM on June 7, 2006

/slight derail

wackybrit - whilst there is a minimum temp in the UK there is in fact no legal maximum temperature. All it states in the Health and Safety guidelines is "take more breaks" and "drink some water". I sympathise with you mustcatchmooseandsquirrel and would say that your best bet is to find the office gentleman and ask nicely to borrow his coat/jacket.
posted by longbaugh at 11:16 AM on June 7, 2006

The vents are all on the ceiling and there are many of them. I don't think it would go over well.

You could tape the vent or vents directly near you with a cardboard folder, you'll still get air but the cold air will have circulated a bit and warmed up. I'd ask my cube mates first, while you maybe freezing, they may be warm. They may resent your comfort at what they perceive as their expense.

You don't want to get into a situation where we had in my office, some people would freeze - turn the thermostat up, others would sweat, turn it down, it got ugly very quickly. One thermostat was set in the cool position and then taken off so that nobody else could mess with it!
posted by xetere at 12:03 PM on June 7, 2006

put on a hat, cap, beanie etc... Most heat escapes through your head.
posted by zgott300 at 1:03 PM on June 7, 2006

After freezing through one summer of insane air conditioning at my last corporate job, I actually brought in a prominent themometer and put it above my cubicle. I then told anyone who asked that I was recording the temperature because "I suspected it was illegally low." The HR guy was over to deal with it within a day. Turns out nobody even knew where the thermostat was; when they found it, it was in a dark storage room with no air conditioning vents of its own. It was way warmer in there than everywhere else, hence the constant pumping AC. So if it's *really* too cold, don't give up on getting it fixed!
posted by web-goddess at 2:46 PM on June 7, 2006

Some thermostats (e.g., the ones in newer buildings at my high school) present no more than an unpainted metal face to the world. Flush to the wall, too. These can be faked out by thumb-tacking a wet paper towel across them.
posted by eritain at 7:09 PM on June 7, 2006

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