County Sweats Its Way Through The Dog Days

Un-air-conditioned Workers Try To Survive The Heat

July 23, 1991|By Elise Armacost | Elise Armacost,Staff writer

Glen Burnie postal carrier Donna Katoski can take the snow. She can take the rain. She can handle the gloom of night just fine. But the heat's just about done her in.

Yesterday, more than a week after Maryland turned into a furnace, Katoski spoke longingly of that day in February 1990 when The Anne Arundel County Sun photographed her traipsing through 6 inches of rain, covered heat to foot in boots, a long raincoat, a winter coat and a helmet.

"I never complain about the winter," she said. "But I hate the summer. The sweat just drips. I hate it. I absolutely hate it."

Katoski tries to be cheerful. She smiles at her postal patrons. She knowsbad weather is a part of the job. She carries a cooler and drinks water all day.

She's still miserable.

"I almost want to cry out there, it's so hot. I try not to think about the sweat rolling down myneck. Then people say, 'Is it hot enough for you, hon? It sure is hot today!' And I'm like, 'No kidding.' I want to say, 'Will you just shut up so I don't have to think about it!' "

Plenty of other working folks in Anne Arundel sweated it out with Katoski yesterday as temperatures reached into the 90s for the 35th day this year. The National Weather Service reported that the mercury hit a high of 97 degreesat Baltimore-Washington Airport. On Sunday, the temperature reached 101 at the airport.

So far, the county has avoided serious heat-related problems. No water restrictions have been imposed on county water customers, though residents who are connected to Baltimore City's water system must follow the city's restrictions.

County police, fire personnel and local hospitals reported no heat-related injuries yesterday. "We'll see more of it today, tomorrow and Wednesday," said Kevin Murnane, a spokesman at North Arundel Hospital. "We will have more outdoor workers in here. It takes a cumulative affect on them."

Katoski said one mail carrier, who usually works indoors, fainted last week while running a route. As bad as it is to deliver mail on foot, she said, it's even worse in one of the U.S. Postal Service's jeeps. Even with a fan, "When you're sitting in there, you cook," she said.

Road crews, dry cleaners, cooks and park rangers -- they're all cooking these days. The blessings of air conditioning don't exist for these people, who must find their own way to survive the summer purgatory.

At 11:30 a.m. yesterday at Ann's Dari-Creme on Ritchie Highway in Glen Burnie, Cindy Mayersky's blouse is drenched with perspiration as two grills sizzle behind her. A wet towel is draped around her neck as she prepares for the lunch crowd and the worst heat of the day.

"We try to slow our pace down," Mayersky said. "With the deep fryer going, even with the air conditioner, it's 84 degrees in here. It gets worse as the day goes on. If it's 100 degrees outside, it's 110 degrees in here."

Things were even worse at Cleaning by Chris on Mountain Road in Pasadena, where the lack of air conditioning and constant heat from pressers creates a miniature inferno.

Store owner Chris Fisher rushes in with large drinks for his employees. A fan blowing from the rear of the store, together with a little air coming in from outside, gives customers a little relief. But Georgia Moody, who is responsible for opening pressers, almost never gets a break.

"I drink a lot and rest often," said Moody, who does her best toavoid the heat by starting at 6:30 a.m. "I've been doing this 10 years and if it gets too bad, I douse myself with water."

Down at Sandy Point State Park, Ranger Mark Trindel also tries to take the heat in stride. "One thing you can't change is the weather," he reasons. Still, it's tough when you're dressed in a full uniform and bulletproof vest and either stuck out in the hot sun or an even hotter car.

"It gets to me sometimes. This week it was just horrible," Trindel said.

The 14 lifeguards employed at Sandy Point "load on the sunblock," he said, and wear hats and sunglasses provided by the park. Picnickers and swimmers often aren't as cautious, even in intense heat like this.

"Even with all the warnings about the dangers of the sun, people still come out and sunbathe and brave the sea nettles," which are especially bad this year, Trindel said. "They will go in 'til they get stung, then come out until they get hot and go in again."

Like parks and pools, snowball stands and air-conditioned shopping malls have been doing a booming business.

As children filed in to see "101 Dalmations," Bill Ormond, manager of K/B Annapolis Mall theaters, reported that he sold twice as many tickets as usual yesterday. Meanwhile, the theater manager at the newly opened K/B Annapolis HarbourCenter at Route 2 and Patuxent Boulevard -- which is not located in a mall -- said not even not even Arnold Schwarzenegger could persuadepeople to leave their homes for an air-conditioned movie theater over the weekend.

At the pit beef/sno-ball stand on Ritchie Highway in Pasadena,

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