So hot, I was stopped by security

The recent heat wave in Singapore, and the unfortunate H1N1 epidemic reminded me of a story. I’ve only told this to a few people, but here is where you’ll read about the full story.

It was slightly later than the SARS period. People were frightened of getting infected. The basic detection method was the temperature check, so thermometers and heat scans were employed.

I was also looking for a potential job position, and I got an afternoon interview with a company. I arrived early because the location was a bit remote.

Now, it’s a habit of mine. Whenever I know something important is happening later, I stop drinking. Just so I won’t have to go to the bathroom at the most inopportune moments. I don’t know why, it’s just a personal quirk.

So I was walking from the bus stop to the company’s location, under the hot sun, in long sleeves and pants (thankfully no suit and tie needed), and heated, slightly sweaty and parched. It was a wonder I reached the security guardroom of the company not dripping wet from my own sweat.

Now this company had a very high security level. They had a full temperature head scanner. They had this device that scans people, and a heat map shows up on their screens.

Well, it was after the SARS period, so I could understand their security concerns. Someone from the company was waiting for me. He waited by the side while the security guard asked me to stand at a designated spot. Then the guard activated the scanner.

Apparently, my temperature scan looked like a sunset with lavish swathes of reds and oranges, because the guard told me to stand still again while he scanned again. Sensing something wrong, the adrenaline in me surged a little, which didn’t help cool down my body temperature. I held still. I even held my breath. I still failed the temperature scan.

The company liaison, surprised by this unexpected unfolding of events, took me to the inner parts of the guardroom, where the air conditioning was stronger. He also offered me a cup of water from the dispenser. Then he told me to sit and wait for a while first. I got myself a cup of water, drank and accepted his suggestion.

“I’m gonna fail the interview before I even step into the company office, aren’t I?” silently and matter-of-factly entered my thoughts.

After 15 minutes (or half an hour, I didn’t keep track), I stood up, and took the temperature scan again. I placed my feet at the exact position of the designated spot, shifting my shoes to fit the exact outline of the pre-drawn shoe print. My hands were held in a limbo of alternating tenseness and forced relaxation. I looked up as confidently as I could, keeping my breathing steady, taking deep breaths… And the guard scanned.

What took seconds felt like the time passed while running around a 400 metre track 2 times, then jumping into a pool to swim 100 metres and then work out a 6 digit long division. By hand. I was getting ready to dive into that imaginary pool in my mind when the guard said it’s ok. I passed.

The company liaison, obvious relief on his face, took me into the company proper. And the interview itself? Well, it’s not as interesting as the guardroom episode… alright fine, I’ll tell you about it some other time.

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