A maintenance worker came into my classroom this morning. “Excuse me, Ma’am. I need to look at your thermostat.” The temperature in my room is comfortable for a change, so I really wished he wouldn’t, but he was just a kid and it was his job. I pointed him toward the thermostat.
He read the dial. “Ma’am, this is set on 75F. Isn’t that too warm?”
“Right now we’re comfortable, thank you.”
“Your thermometer reads 69F.”
“That’s perfect,” I said.
“But ma’am, the control panel on the roof says we’re pumping 52F degree air in here. Are you sure you aren’t too cold?”
I looked at the man. He was wearing a short sleeved light-weight work shirt. I pointed at his arm, “You’re standing here. Are you too cold?”
“Well, no ma’am, but they have made it clear that we are to rely on our equipment and not our own judgement.”
“Oookay,” I said. “According to your equipment, it is either 75, 69, or 52 degrees in here. That seems very reliable to me.”
His smile was crooked and he kind of shrugged one shoulder. “I know, Ma’am, but I have to write something down here on this clipboard, and they aren’t going to like three different answers.”
I grinned at him and asked, “What answer would make them happiest?”
His eyes widened. He glanced from his clipboard, to me, to his clipboard. He whispered, “Can I do that?” Then he looked up at me, grinned and said, “Thanks, Ma’am!”