Okay,everyone,it’s story time. This heatwave we’ve been having this week reminds me of the hottest day I’ve experienced (and hopefully ever will experience) in my life.
The day was Jul. 22,2006, it was my mother’s birthday and I was working. Back then I was working as a courtesy clerk at an Albertsons in Citrus Heights,Calif. behind the city’s signature mall. We were in the process of closing that store (which has since been demolished) with a week left in business before we all left to our new stores/new opportunities in life. I was working from 9-6 that day if I remember correctly. My dad and I were shopping to get my mom a present for her birthday before he dropped me off for work. That day when I arrived, it was already 96° by 8 that morning. Our expected high that day 110°.
I was wearing my blue Albertsons polo, khaki pants (I’m not sure if we were allowed to wear shorts as courtesy clerks,we probably were,but I didn’t have any),and I had an orange San Francisco Giants T-shirt underneath the polo. This,along with working in the heat most of the day, was a recipe for disaster.
Now,usually, a grocery store is a place where,during a heat wave,is a beacon of coldness with cool air blowing every which way around the store. Unfortunately with our store closing in a matter of days, someone decided to cut off the store’s air conditioning (I’m not sure if it was someone with the store or the mall itself decided to do it,either was,it was pretty fucked up!). There was one saving grace and that was the store’s walk-in cooler. Unfortunately I couldn’t spend an eight hour shift in there,so that wasn’t much relief.
I was assigned the most cart hours during my shift that day,meaning I had to retrieve carts for an entire hour during the hour I was assigned. If I remember correctly,I was given four and had to take another one on when a fellow courtesy clerk was called upon to be in the checkstand. That meant I was only inside for the little relief that I had for a small period of time that day.
When the time came for me to end my shift at 6 that evening,we had reached 113° that
day and I finished work with next to no energy, sweaty clothes on,and heat rash along my legs on the inside. I don’t think I had ever been so hot and felt so disgusting in my 24 years of existence at that point. I still don’t know how I endured such a challenging day. When I emerged from the car at home that evening,my mom came home to see me panting and flushed. She asked me why I was doing that,and I told her about the conditions of the store and what had happened with me that day and she wasn’t very happy. That evening, me and the family went out to have dinner at the Galleria at Roseville and when we were done eating at around close to 9:30 that night, it was still in the mid-90s.
The next day I was off (thank goodness!) and to make myself feel better,I went to a former workplace,Golfland Sunsplash in Roseville, to cool off on what was another 110+ degree day. Lifeguards on duty kept urging the patrons to drink as much water as they could,and for good reason. That day I witnessed about seven people being taken by ambulance to the hospital for dehydration. I was okay despite having a Diet Pepsi during my visit.
In the aftermath of the events of that day,my mom was so upset that she called my local union and told them about the working conditions of that store despite it’s closing the following week. I don’t know how,but the air conditioning came back the next day I came to work. It was great knowing that someone did something about the situation I was in. I wish I had said something myself,but I wasn’t sure what I was going to do or say anyways.
Sure,there were hotter days temperature-wise I was apart of,but I had never felt so hot,disgusting,and disoriented as I did on my mom’s birthday in 2006. The heat is no joke and nothing to mess around with. Hydrate yourself well, wear comfortable,cool clothing, keep as cool as you can,and get plenty of rest. You never know when you’ll have an experience like I did that scorching July day.