Today, I’m leaving for Louisville Kentucky for a two-week job in one of our hottest, dirtiest, and overall shittiest places to work. Last night I made the mistake of checking out what the weather will be like for the next couple weeks out in Ken-tuck, and I didn’t much care for what they told me. Mid-90’s, hot and fucking humid the whole time. I had the pleasure of working at this plant for a week and a half last July and I recorded the single hottest temperature I’ve ever found in one of our sites:
That’s damn near boiling. All that dusty, dirty crap my meter is sitting on is the crap I have to get working this trip. Working in 190 degree conditions is something no person, anywhere, ever, should have to experience. I’ve heard that it’s impossible to drown yourself by sticking your head underwater in your bath tub and holding it there. Your body’s aversion reaction will eventually force you to pull your head out, and no amount of conscious discipline can stop it. That’s kind of what working here is like; I have to override every goddamn instinct that’s been programmed into me to keep my ass alive.
Entering this area literally feels like getting punched in the stomach. After my first exhale it’s hard to convince my lungs to suck in the hot, dirty air; often I have to pull my shirt up over my nose and mouth so the air cools down just enough that it doesn’t burn my throat. It’s that hard just to breathe, and the resulting sensation is not unlike having the wind knocked out of you. The ambient temperature is hot enough that I can’t touch anything, and I mean anything without a nice new blister to show for it (heat your oven to 200 and then grab the rack in there. Actually don’t do that, I’m just making a point). That means I’m wearing long sleeves, long pants and leather gloves the entire time, and that doesn’t help the sweat much. After about 5 minutes my body is screaming at me to leave. I begin to get light-headed, and the amount of sweat pouring out of my every pore is ludicrous. But I have to keep my head in that proverbial bath tub for about 10 or 15 minutes at a time to get anything done. As soon as I can, I make a break for the roof for a little respite, but in the dead of summer, there’s not much solace to be found out there. I’ll drink a week’s worth of gatorade and bottled water every day to keep hydrated, and hopefully I’ll still be alive in a few days to write about the fine city of Louisville.
Wish me luck.