Thursday, August 23, 2007

A Hot Baby of Substance (Donna Summer)

Language: Russian

If there's one common saying I hate, it's "Be careful what you wish for; you might just get it." I hate it because, of course, everybody already is careful about what they're wishing for, and by definition, nobody intends the unintended consequences of wishes.

It is, nevertheless, the saying that best applies to my current life situation, unfortunately.

It turns out that I don't so much mind the work; I'm not really in shape for it yet, and there really is a lot of lifting and standing and pulling and what have you, but that's not especially worrisome, since my body will adjust to that in time, I assume. What I'm having more trouble with is the heat. I've done actual work at work now on six different occasions, and on at least three (maybe four) of those occasions, I've experienced symptoms of heat exhaustion.

Which maybe that's something that can be adjusted to too, given time, but, well, here's the story. I was scheduled to work Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. On Monday, I didn't go in due to a misreading of the schedule. On Tuesday, I worked a full day: it was hot (and in fact the greenhouse temperature got as high as 96F, which when combined with the 100% humidity in there means a heat index of 167.5F, according to the forumla the National Weather Service uses to calculate heat index)1, and I was pretty miserable for the last half of it or so, but I worked, and I lived through it, though I was pretty exhausted when I got home, and I woke up at about 3 AM Wednesday morning with a screaming headache. It's been a long time since my body woke me up to tell me that we had a headache, but no big deal, it didn't keep me up very long.

But so anyway. I go in at 8 AM on Wednesday morning and more or less immediately felt like I was either going to barf or faint, which didn't go away when I moved into a cooler, non-greenhousey part of the building, or when I tried to work a lot slower, and the thing is that it wasn't even that hot yet, at that point (I don't remember the temperature exactly, but I do remember looking at the thermometer in there and being shocked and frightened to see that it hadn't even gone above 80F yet2. The outdoor temperature yesterday was supposed to be hotter than on Tuesday, and I was already feeling barfy/fainty, so I left early. I have no explanation for why this would have kicked in so soon in the day; the best I can come up with is, well, maybe I hadn't recovered entirely from Tuesday.

So but here's my situation now. I've been scheduled to work, so far, seven times. One time out of the seven, we have a fluke no-call-no-show because of the boss's quirky scheduling system, which isn't going to happen again. And two or three times I show up and work my shift and everything is fine. But this business of showing up and experiencing life-threatening heat3 every other day that I work is fucked up. Maybe this is something I'll adapt to in time, too, and even if I don't, the temperatures are all downhill from now until mid-January, so this could theoretically work out for a while. But I'm not making enough money that I can miss a day here and there and still get by, either.

It's still too early to tell for sure what's going to happen, but I'm not optimistic about this. Which sort of sucks, because I do kind of like the work otherwise. It's a lot less customer-intensive than cashiering was, and what little customer interaction there has been has been pretty enjoyable so far. But for as little money as I'm getting (and of course no benefits like health insurance or whatever, that might actually cover expenses if I were to, say, pass out at work and crack my skull open on some concrete), and the level of discomfort and actual danger I'm experiencing, there has to be something better somewhere out there. So maybe this isn't going to work out. And even if it does, maybe it's not going to work out for more than seven or eight months. I really can't be drinking more water at work than I already have been (which is what everybody at work keeps telling me to do: "Are you drinking water? You should have some water." In an 8-hour shift, I probably have 64 to 96 ounces of water4, plus whatever I have before I go in and whatever I have after I get home. I'm not dehydrated, I'm just too fucking hot.), so I'm not left with a lot of options.


1Metric equivalents: actual temperature of 35.6C, heat index of 75.3C.

2so, less than 26.7C.

3Body temperatures above 104F/40C are considered life-threatening; at this temperature, one typically experiences mental confusion, profuse sweating, drops in blood pressure which lead to faintness, and cramping or vomiting, which reads a lot like my day yesterday. Prolonged, continued exposure to heat fills in the following other spaces on the Hyperthermia Bingo Card: abrupt cessation of sweating, hostility, headache, behaving as though intoxicated (staggering, slurred speech, etc.), increased pulse and respiration, flushing followed by pallor, chills, shivering, muscle weakness, convulsions, temporary blindness (!), unconsciousness, coma, death. Plus, obviously, the free square in the middle of the card. All this is from Wikipedia except for the bingo stuff, which is my own addition.

4(1/2 to 3/4 of a U.S. gallon, or 1.9 to 2.8 liters)

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I ate my heart here to await, to sit,
to call a certain lover of
approximately a thousand numbers. I collected
it, almost rang the telephone from the wall

to look for a certain hot baby of substance this evening,
a certain hot baby of substance tonight,
I want a certain hot baby of substance (which I was) this evening.
Gotta have a certain hotter substance;
certainly gotta have love tonight for
myself. A hotter substance:
I want a certain hotter substance.
I need the hotter substance.

He does not want another lover: others look for the
night. In my own portion
with the warm-blooded lover, my love is that which wanna . . .
wanna bring the tail end of the house (the reactionaries of it).


Hotter, it's hotter, it's hotter, it's a hotter substance --
hotter, it's hotter, it's hotter.
Hotter, it's hotter, it's hotter, it's a hotter substance --
hot, hot, hot!


It sat here, ate my heart for no reason;
it carried another night out on me.
I collected it about 100 numbers, which babies
jumped to, finding "someone" home: I am.

It's gotta have a certain hot baby of substance this evening,
a certain hot baby of substance tonight (which is me).
Looking for a certain hot baby of substance this evening,
I'm your baby of love,
of your love tonight.


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