A colleague in my building--a woman about my age--fans herself and says, "I think I'm having a hot flash."
"No," I reply, "This entire building is having a hot flash."
This time of year it's impossible to know how to dress for work. Sure, it's fall and we've had enough cool weather to inspire the HVAC gods to turn on the heat, but a sudden heat wave this week has rendered that heat redundant. Our HVAC system is as old as the building, which is as old as I am, so it's certainly old enough to suffer from hot flashes and it's not nimble enough to allow quick changes from heat to cool and back again. With cooler weather on the way soon, no one is interested in shifting the whole system over to air conditioning.
So we're hot. My students fan themselves with notebooks and I open the window to make the classroom more bearable, but then we're assaulted by traffic noise. Close the windows so we can hear each other and no one can breathe.
We find ways to cope--fan in the office, cold water bottle held against hot forehead, summer clothes in October. Yesterday I taught in a short-sleeved shirt, summer skirt (white after Labor Day!), and sandals, but I still had sweat pouring into my eyeballs in class.
When the heat gets unbearable, I go to the library, a newer building with a more flexible HVAC system. They have to maintain constant temperature and humidity over there to protect the books, so the library is the one reliably cool place on an overheated campus.
I realize that this problem is temporary, that next week or next month I'll be griping about my cold office and the glacial desk and my Arctic classrooms, but will that knowledge stop me from complaining about today's heat? No it will not.
Nice thing about the weather: it always gives us something to complain about.