Some Like It Hot
“It’s hot in here. Why is it so hot in here?”
I was distressed. After 5 glorious hours of sleeping on the train, I woke up sweating. Our cabin was hot! I’m talking bathing suit, sitting on the beach, sipping a drink from a coconut, hot. As I looked around, I discovered the source. There were shiny heaters under both seats, as well as the outer wall. That’s 3 heaters in a cabin that was about 6′ x 6′.
I used my hand to grope the heater, hoping to find an on and off switch. Nothing. Next, I scoured the walls looking for a control panel. Nothing.
My cabin mate, a Chinese girl on her way to Hong Kong, was equally hot. She quickly removed her camel wool sweater and I took off my light spring jacket. I’m sure opening our cabin door would have helped, but having random strangers constantly stopping in was annoying both of us at the time. So, I opted for the next best thing. I went in search of our train steward.
I walked down the hallway and smiled at the other passengers as I went by. I was the only white person in my car, which meant I was interesting to look at, hey, that is what I prefer t think, please don’t pop that particular bubble! Anyway! When I found the train steward, she was sitting in her little cabin, make-up mirror in one hand and lipstick in the other. Her black leather boots were in perfect shape, as was her blue uniform. Standing at her door made me feel like a slob. As she looked up I started to fan myself with the top of my t-shirt, stuck my tongue way out and made my I’m-dying-of-heat face. She didn’t even crack a smile. She just waved her hand up and down and it was clear to me that she wanted me to go back to my cabin and leave her alone.
When I found my cabin, I sat down and explained that the heat wasn’t going to change. We both decided to deal with the constant stream of people, and open our door.
As I sat back and looked out the window, it was hard to believe that it was -20C (or lower) outside. I could see the white snow dusting the brown grasslands, but my body was sweating. When the train made a stop, I jumped at the chance to go outside. I threw on my boots and practically ran for the doors, leaving my jacket, hat, and mittens behind.
When I stepped outside, the cool air was a welcome change. Why are all these people bundled up so much? Don’t they know it’s like spring out here? I felt like running around and skipping for joy, I wasn’t dying of heat anymore -In hindsight, I recognize that this was a bad idea as it probably contributed to the intense cold I developed the following day. But my joy-walk outside was only 10% of the cause; I blame the other 80% on the train.
At night, when the temperature dropped even further, the windows between the cars froze over and small amounts of snow gathered in the outer doorways, the heat was turned down. I spent the night under my warm blanket, trying to avoid using the bathroom so I could stay warm. In the morning, I cursed myself for wanting warmth as I woke up in a sweat and discovered that all 3 heaters were on, once again.