© 2016 by Charles D. Jones

Unintended Consequences

February 7, 2019

I've seen the law of unintended consequences painfully played out countless times in politics, organizations of all types, and relationships. My latest encounter took place here at Bastrop Federal Satellite Camp. 

 

We all know that Texas weather can be extremely unpredictable. There's a constant conflict when southerly flowing cool air, arriving from the rocky mountains, collides with warm, moist air moving north from the Gulf of Mexico. This is particularly true in winter when afternoon temperatures can vary somewhere between 25 and 80 degrees. Heating and cooling in that environment can be challenging for anyone. With the body-heat generated by our current inmate population of 170 inmates living in a housing facility designed for 90-something, it's probable that the building will need to be cooled, not heated, at least part of almost every day, even in January and February.

 

Our saga began on the west side barrack, when some of our inmate geniuses broke the tamper-proof case protecting the thermostat so they could turn it down to 64 degrees every night. I'm not sure if they're just hot-natured or if they were hanging stolen meat in their lockers, but that's what they did. Other inmates thought this was too cold, but instead of posting a 24/7 thermostat guard, they made the tactical mistake of complaining in writing to the Camp Administrator. This set in motion a mudslide of unintended consequences.

 

The Camp Administrator's decisive response was the send over the officer in charge of HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning) to simply turn off the air conditioner. On its own, that was probably not the brightest idea, but he also unfortunately forgot what everyone else knows. The HVAC officer's judgment elevator doesn't get anywhere near the top floor when it comes to HVAC. I've written about him before here. He proved his prowess once again when he didn't just turn off the air conditioners, he drained all the Freon coolant from the units and then went on vacation. 

 

Within 30 minutes, the wind changed and we experienced a winter wave of warmth. This would not have been a problem had those now Freonless/worthless cooling units not also serviced 3 of the 4 staff offices. Seriously, who cares if inmates sweat (Nobody, in case you didn't know)? But this now became a HUGE unintended consequence with 75% of the camp officer's sweaty pants sticking to their expansive rear-ends. This precipitated the need to open all the doors, welcoming critters of all kinds, and necessitated the need to bring over 10 large fans to try to cool the place down a few degrees. None of this worked very well until the temperature graciously dropped, but it was the only solution to the unintended consequence of the unintended consequence of the unintended consequence. 

Maybe I should remember this the next time someone suggests that the government take over health care.

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