Thailand

Catching Crickets with Elephants

A large flaw was uncovered in our physical plant.

A higher power made a connection that on the weekends, the AC in our building is turned off and that our office gets very warm.  It is Thailand. 

The elevated temps place thousands of dollars worth of medication and vaccines at risk, since they must be stored at temps under 30 degrees celsius.

We share our building with 18 other floors of tenants. It is a building wide shut down of the AC from Friday until Monday morning.

The higher power then decreed and demanded that because of the risk to medications, the AC must be kept on all weekend.  As that meant the entire building, the cost was going to amount to 10’s of thousands of dollars or multiples of the normal monthly rent.  

Damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead, though.  The medications must be saved and no expense spared. This despite the fact that this problem has existed for a while and there is no apparent loss of life or limb. 

When they saw the bill, an even higher power stepped in and declined to allow this. These are guardians of at least some of our taxpayer money.  A different solution was going to have to be found.  

The lower, higher power and the higher, higher power discussed. And finally agreed on a temporary solution. A portable AC unit would be rigged up and vented until a more permanent solution could be engineered.  

“Ohh, Duck-tour!” an employee sighed, flopping on my couch. “Did you hear about our crisis this week?”  She is perhaps one of the sharpest, street-smart people I’ve met.

“It was something about the temperatures, yes?” I responded. 

“Yes! Did you hear about our disaster, though?  The vent to the portable AC unit fell back into the room at one point in the weekend.  When we came in on the weekend, the room was a hot, and humid mess!” 

She continued, “Doc, I don’t get it. Every week our higher power talks about a new crisis and we scramble all week to fix it. Until the next week, when a new crisis shows up.  One week it is calendars. Another week it is dirty closets. I can’t keep up! I mean, this AC issue, yeah, it’s important and our higher power is right, but this problem has been there for 20 years and no one has been harmed. Why not wait until we can engineer a good solution? In Thailand, we have a saying, that you don’t use an elephant to catch crickets! You usually make a mess and you never catch the cricket! The urgency doesn’t make sense!”

Three days later, I poked my head out the door and saw her standing in the middle of the hall staring intently into her own office.

“What’s going on?” I asked. 

She looked at me with a deep smirk and shake of her head. “They’re trying to catch a cricket!”

I walked down and peered in to see a 3 man crew working to suspend a portable AC unit from the wall so that it drained into a sink. A 15” diameter vent snaked its way into the ceiling. A cord wiggled its way across the floor. 

It was a horribly ugly solution, but with the silver vent trumpeting into the suspended ceiling, it did indeed look like an elephant.

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