If there’s one thing black and white people do not agree on, it is what temperature setting the air conditioner should be at
so warm you can prove bread in it. Insults are exchanged like volleys at the US Open, and eventually HR is called in to referee. I’m lucky because I’ve never been embroiled in that kind of argument. My friend Zinhle says it’s because I don’t get cold the way most of my people do. But I will say this: I, too, have experienced glacial temperatures that have left me feeling fragile and shrivelled up.
When I was awarded the Nelson Mandela Washington Fellowship at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana in 2014, I spent time inside the Mendoza School of Business building, where the temperature is centrally controlled. It felt like summer outside but winter inside. When I tell you that the building was colder than my freezer, I’m not exaggerating.
During our lunch breaks, we would sit outside to thaw out like chicken cutlets. Imagine 25 Africans, some from places l ike Niger and Senegal, where temperatures can rise to over 40 degrees, stuck in a freezing room for hours. I’ll never complain about the air conditioning again, especially in a country like ours, where we have bigger problems to deal with than the office temperature.
The Way I See It