Daily Archives: August 2, 2011

Life Lessons from the Library: Heat Makes You Grumpy

Occasionally, in the dead of winter or the heat of summer, folks will have the following discussion, “Would you rather be too hot or too cold?”  Cold-loving folks, of course, argue that, since you can always add more clothes, cold is the better choice of extremes. Those who prefer heat mention things like swimming, cold drinks, and lack of necessary clothing.

Generally, I change according to the season. In hot weather, I long for hot tea and fireplaces. In cold times, I look forward to running out the door in shorts and a t-shirt.

But one thing I do know for sure is that hot weather makes people very grumpy. Maybe the cold requires folks to wear so many layers that, by the time they’ve taken off scarves, gloves, and jackets, they’re too tired to argue. Or maybe cold weather slows down emotions the way it does motion.

In the library this week, we are suffering through a double dose of heat. Outside, it’s the hottest summer in years with temperatures hovering in the upper 90s. Hands burn when they touch steering wheels. No one volunteers to run an errand to another building. But now the heat has moved inside. A new air conditioning unit is being put in our building, which means there will be a period of several days without a system at all. So far, it has not been miserable. But it is stuffy and uncomfortable.

And I am getting grumpy. When a colleague asked me an innocent question today, I could hear the sharpness in my response. Why? Sure, she interrupted me while I was working on something. But I’m a pretty good multitasker, and every other time, I’ve answered the question while continuing to type. But today, I could feel the sweat on my back and the weight of my hair on the nape of my neck. So I snapped an answer.

And I’m not the only one. Usually patient students suddenly don’t want to wait for help or service. “The printer is out of paper” sounds like an accusation.

Yes, we’re all grumpy. It reminds me of the time I was in college and rooming with two other girls. I confided in the nun at my church that I was going crazy from lack of privacy. She nodded sympathetically but said, “It’s hard for you, but remember it’s not their fault either.”

So while the heat makes me grumpy, I try to remember, not always successfully, that neither the heat nor my grumpiness is caused by the people around me. So there’s no need to take my bad mood out on them.

Besides, soon, I’ll be shivering again and wishing for the sun 🙂