Lurking in my office with the temperature at 40 Celsius outside. Assailed by guilt because the air-conditioner is on full blast. Which probably brings it down to about 30 inside my room. Bliss in comparison. I just need to pop my head outside the door to confirm that.
Guilt because I’m cool while the vast majority suffers. Let alone the people on the streets or out in the burning tracts of my old district, most of the people in my own office don’t have air-conditioning. They will, once we shift to our swank new upper floor over in the business district, they’ll even have ergonomic chairs and a recreation room and piped music (I also have some vestiges of guilt because I’m listening to
Water of Love the most awesome version of Telegraph Road while all they can hear is traffic), but right now they’re perched on wooden chairs with handkerchiefs wrapped inside their collars, vying to park their poor sweaty butts in front of the fans.
Guilt because air-conditioning is bad for Mother Earth. It fuels a cycle of global warming. More ACs equals more CFCs equals higher temperatures equals more ACs, even before one takes into account the effects of the higher power generation required. Further guilt because I used to whup people who cut down trees, so this makes me a sort of whiskey priest. Even more guilt because this air-conditioner runs at the tax-payer’s expense.
Can I justify the environmental and social cost of keeping myself cool? When it’s too hot (say above 35 C) I get the most splitting headaches all the way down my neck. I can’t work. Am I pampering myself here? Should I work all the same even if I have that headache? If I work better without the headache, do I provide enough incremental value to outweigh the costs involved?
Which brings me to an evaluation of my contribution. When I took charge here I posited the HR “rule of
Besides, if I bust my ass for four more days, I have a realistic chance of finishing my first full fiscal in charge with a surplus at least 8 times higher than last year’s deficit. Therefore by the yardstick of profitability and CEO’s accountability, I can do what I bloody well want.
Of course that’s not the point. What I worry about is, does the work that I do make a difference to the man who needs it most? If I improve the bottom line for this organization, does it make sure that even one family gets one extra meal a day? I know, stupid bleeding-heart idealism. I tell myself that, but it still worms its way into my head.
What really gets under my skin is that I don’t do enough to lighten my load of guilt. I enjoy the good life when I can get it. I spend what I earn and I usually get my money’s worth. I don’t bribe the Fates and my conscience with hair-shirts. I don’t spend weeks every year working with people who make me feel like scum and bring tears to my eyes. Well, Conscience, I have news. I’ve done that. For ten years and more, I did it my way. When I could have been sitting at home, I was out walking muddy roads in the dark till . When I could have sat in my office and reviewed other men’s work, I was out there in the sun till I didn’t know whether my feet or my head hurt more.
But then I was paid to do it. I AM paid to do it. Does that devalue the effort? Does it mean I have not paid my dues?
Somebody tell me, please.