Crumbs From the Corner: Adventures in Woolgathering

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The Laws of Thermodynamics

"Tragedy and comedy are but two aspects of what is real, and whether we see the tragic or the humorous is a matter of perspective."
-Arnold Beisser

We hear too many tales from the point of view of lost souls calling up assistants on help desks and getting no aid whatsoever. Perhaps a little-known cautionary tale from the other side might be in order. The place is London; it is Springtime. As evening falls, a young couple stagger into a hotel room after disembarking from a ferry and rumbling along on a train while the young lady was desperately poorly. She had been violently ill all through the previous night from evening to dawn and throughout the sea voyage, the train journey and the walk to the hotel. She is grateful to get into bed and to fall asleep, exhausted and utterly miserable at the initial part of the holiday being so horribly spoiled.
At about 2 AM the husband awakens with a start. The hotel is Victorian; he is unused to the old-world atmosphere and the room feels strange. Although it is almost Summer there is an electric blanket on the bed: it is turned on. The husband leaps out of bed, his skin burning. He is furious and makes a telephone call to the desk downstairs.
"Excuse me," he says, scratching viciously at his arms and legs, "please, please can you send somebody up here immediately to turn off the electric blanket? It is too hot. I can't sleep!"
He is raging with anger; sleep was non-existent the night before and it was expected that this night would be an improvement.
"I'm sorry, Sir..."
"No! You send somebody up here. Now. This is simply ridiculous." The husband is at this time wide awake and anxious to be far away in another hotel.
"Sir, listen..."
"It is too hot," the troubled man mutters while trying to stay calm.
"We do not have electric blankets on our beds."
"So hot...pardon?"
"We do not have electric blankets on any of our beds. No electric blankets."
The husband, shocked, looks blankly at the telephone. He stares down at his still sick wife, who is also awake by this time, and he quietly says to the assistant at the other end of the line, "I'm sorry. Thank you."
He puts down the receiver and gets back into bed. His wife's temperature shortly thereafter drops to a healthier degree, which would, I suppose, be any number below 103.

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