April 21st, 2012

disney - ariel facepalm

Well, today sucked.

Today was crazy.  First, I put in my usual eight hours at the museum.  It was a pretty average day - not too busy, not too slow.  The real suck came afterwards, when I had to book it over to RHA to work an evening event.

See, every year RHA hosts a fundraiser/auction for one of those Cancer Kid-type charities.  People come in, drink lots of wine, and bid on auctions.  It's a good time for everyone, right?

I got to the Clubhouse at a few minutes after 6:30pm. The guests of the charity event had already arrived. The first thing I noticed when I walked in was that it wasn't any cooler inside the building. Before I had even put my bag down, one of the guests had asked if I could turn up the air conditioning because it didn't seem high enough.

When I went to the A/C panel, it said the room was in the high 70s (I think it was 78) but that the A/C was already running. Everything should have been running fine, but just in case the air wasn't circulating I switched the fan from 'auto' to 'on'. This didn't seem to have an effect on the temperature – but I thought that with over one hundred guests moving around, it'd be pretty hard to feel any change immediately! When I put my hand over a vent, the air felt room temperature. By now, one of the board members had seen me, so he asked me to see what I could do. I  don't know jack about air conditioning if it isn't responding to the control panel, so I called the maintenance manager (MM).  He described the steps to changing the temperature on the panel, so I knew that I had done everything correctly. If that wasn't working, he said there wasn't anything he could do until Monday. I reported this to the event hosts, and they were understanding – I mean, they weren't happy that the A/C was out but they knew we would just have to make the best of it, and we hoped that opening the doors and allowing air to circulate would cool things down.

Another board member was not so understanding. He came in and very abrasively insisted I call MM again to ask if there was a way to reset or restart the system. I had never heard of such a thing for A/C, but he was standing over me and I knew he wouldn't go back out until I called, so I did, and MM confirmed once again that there wasn't anything we could do if some part of the A/C system decided to malfunction. MM did not sound well on the phone, so I felt really awful about bothering him, but unfortunately his name was on duty this weekend so I didn't think I'd get a quick response if I called the other guys.

My memory of what exactly happened next is fuzzy, due to the noise of the party and the constant stream of people coming in and out. At some point, the angry board member had gotten the idea that the A/C's compressor was kaput, and he came in again demanding that I call MM and get him to either fix the A/C or bring out some fans. The host was coming in and out, trying to calm down the guests outside since a lot of people were complaining about the heat. I ended up calling MM a third time to ask where I could find some fans, because Russ insisted that we had several of them somewhere. MM said we didn't have fans, so that's what I told the board member. He exploded, “GET ME MMON THE PHONE RIGHT NOW!” and so I did. I didn't want to, but  I didn't think I could say no to a board member – especially not when there were at least two other board members at the event.

I didn't hear everything that the board member said to MM on the phone, except that he was speaking in a very sharp, angry tone – the ambient noise was very loud. I think he was telling him that the compressor was broken and that they needed the exhaust fans, and he (board member) knew that we had them because he'd seen them during construction or something to that effect. At the end of the conversation, I think MM must have said something similar to “I will come out and take a look” because suddenly I heard the board member snap, “THAT SOUNDS LIKE IT WOULD BE A VERY GOOD IDEA” in a very sarcastic way.

So at that point, the board member left the office. The host said he thought the weather was starting to cool and that things might not be so bad, so I asked if I should call MM back and tell him not to bother since the problem was slowly self-correcting. The host said no, I shouldn't because he [board member] would just get even more upset.

MM came in and checked everything out, and it was exactly as he'd said – some part in the A/C system had broken down and it wouldn't be fixable until Monday. He found a big black fan, which I set up in the Clubhouse to help circulate the air. When the host was helping me pick the best spot to place it, he said something to the effect that one fan couldn't make much of a difference, so it almost didn't seem worthwhile to put it out. The angry board member was off somewhere and as far as I know, he never saw MM arrive.

Things were mostly quiet after that. One guest came in (don't know name – may not have been a resident) and complained that we should have had someone on call for maintenance – I said that we did, and he had already come by. The resident then said that we should have an A/C guy come in right then. I told him that it was highly unlikely that there would be any A/C repairmen sitting around at 8:30 on a Saturday night waiting for a phone call. He laughed and went back out to the party.  A second resident came in to complain, too. He said that he thought that we should have checked the A/C before. I told him that as far as I knew, it had been working fine on Friday (I did turn it on Friday afternoon, and shut it off when I left at 5) and unfortunately, these things sometimes happen. He didn't seem to think that was a satisfactory response, because he said he'd talk to the CEO on Monday.  I'm not sure if that was a sign he was still upset, or if that's just his default response, because I think every conversation I have with him ends with “I'll talk to the CEO about it”.

The last thing worth mentioning was that at the end of the event – I'd guess around 10pm – the angry board member came back in. In the same sharp, sarcastic tone he used with MM earlier he said:

Board member: So, did MM ever come in? Did he look at the compressor?
Me: Yes, he was here for quite a while. He was able to determine the source of the problem, but unfortunately it was not something he could fix tonight.
Board member: So did he find some fans?
Me: He was able to locate one, and it's been set up in the Clubhouse all evening.
Board member: Oh, look. He was able to find one fan. And he said we didn't have any.

At that point, the board member was just being a jerk! He had to know we'd found a fan, because it was positioned by the library and he had to walk right past it to get to the office. I'm sure the host would have told him that MM had been there, if the board member hadn't seen him. It was completely unnecessary and just seemed like a chance for him to say “I told you so”.