Doug Bruns

Posts Tagged ‘air-condition’

Out of the woods too soon?

In Popular Culture on July 31, 2012 at 6:00 am

Street art by Banksy

I have a couple of gripes to get off my chest. One local, one international.

First, local:

I walked into the Whole Foods store here in Portland yesterday and came face-on against a streaming cloud of air conditioning that would freeze water. I was prepared. This store is always this way. I came wearing a fleece. But one thing leading to another, me gathering a head of steam, I could not contain myself any longer and approached the manager.

“Excuse me,” I said. “I don’t want to sound like a jerk, but how can a corporation that is supposedly so environmentally sensitive justify the air conditioning settings you use?” The young manager looked at me with a tentative smile. Behind him stood a young woman, an employee, who nodded in mute agreement.

“Unfortunately, on a day like this,” he explained, “the AC seems particularly cold.” (It was sixty-eight degrees outside. Why was the AC even on?) “Yesterday,” he continued, “it was almost eighty.” I pointed to my fleece. “I put this on knowing I was coming here. It’s always ass-cold here.” I said ass-cold. I don’t know what ass-cold means exactly, but it sounded good, giving my tirade a bit of heat.

The young manager explained that the store temperature is set regionally and that he has no control over it. I asked him to explain the logic of that and he could not.

“It seems an example,” I said, “of corporate double-speak. You say you are a good steward of the earth, but your actions do not hold up.” I thanked him for his time and left.

In all travels I have never encountered a culture so hell-bent on being uncomfortably comfortable as we are. The earth cannot sustain our pamper forever. Five percent of the world’s population–that would be us–using twenty-five percent of the world’s resources. (As an aside, I will be hard-pressed to give WF more of my money.)

Second gripe: The Olympics.

Must we count medals? Can we not enjoy competition and the accomplishments of the determined athletes without turning it into yet another venue for nationalism and chest-thumping?

I watch the games and relish in the achivements of these athletes. I grow misty-eyed over their acomplishments regardless of where they call home. They are human beings. I am a human being. That another of my species is proven so capable makes my spirits rise. It is deeply emotional to me to be reminded that I, like them, am a human being.

The spirit of the ancient games, I am given to understand, was such that differences were set aside, wars paused, arguments silenced, such that human achievement might be purely enjoyed. Is our medal counting so different from a certain dictator’s Olympic expectation that his superior breed would prevail? Did he too not preach national exceptionalism?

Metal counting as nascent patriotism is tiresome. I have seen enough of the world to know better.


Phew. Obviously I came out of the woods too soon. Pardon my rant.