Mercury Falling: FM Complaints

Hot/cold calls. They never stop coming in and shoulder season is the worst, though here in Chicago it seems we've been flung off the shoulder to land knee-deep in winter all of a sudden. But before you field those 11 hot/colds staring at you from your email, read these stories sent in by Building Operating Management readers. Maybe it will give you a chuckle before you're off to tell a certain someone for the umpteenth time what the company setpoints are. Enjoy (and good luck!)

Huddled for Warmth

"Being a software company is fairly common to have several PCs grouped together running test code.  Needless to say the areas between cubes on a dead end hall is an inviting spot for a half dozen test code machines. We received a “Too Cold” call and after checking the HVAC management system, were puzzled to see it reading 75F in that area.  After looking into it further, the PC test lab was directly under the thermostat controlling that area. ...It was 8 degrees cooler away from the test lab."

Just Like Your Mom Told You

"This occurred on the first day of the year to exceed 80 degrees OAT.  The occupants of one office complained they were too hot.  I addressed it myself due to the political expediency of the issue.  Upon arriving, the occupants expressed their dissatisfaction of our department and how we can’t get anything right.  The space has two windows.  In one of them is mounted a window A/C.  It was set for 60 degrees, and was working beautifully.  The other window was wide open.  I informed them that the unit can’t cool the entire outdoors…  I then noticed that one of the occupants had a small portable heater on under the desk. I asked why it was running, and she complained that her feet were cold…"

Wise Guys

"Comments and Work notes, description: the arctic winds continue to howl, we remain snowed into our cubes... Food is running low, although morale is higher than could be hoped for considering the harsh weather. Today marks the loss of our 3rd teammate to hyperthermia, we will miss his PowerPoint skills... Our hopes and discussions remain on two topics: an air drop of supplies and a change in weather... hands too cold to type more...Should this be our last message before we succumb to the frozen darkness, we bid thee farewell and Godspeed..."

I think they meant to say 'hypothermia' in that last one, though with that level of drama, who knows. I can just see them artfully draping themselves around their cubes in a diorama of "arctic expedition gone wrong" as their FM came down to check on their temp.

What stories do you have that can top these? Post a new thread to the forum or send me an email at

Stay warm!

4 Replies

  • These were all good ones, Naomi, but the last one is priceless. Are you going to put out another book soon like your 2014 book "What Drives FMs to Drink..."

    In January, 2016, I spoke at a Plenary Session at the IAQA convention in Orlando in conjunction with the ASHRAE convention. I had brought your book with me as it has about a dozen pages with IAQ issues. One of the presenters was having some issues with his PowerPoint presentation, so I told some of the stories from your book while the audience was waiting. Went over well.

    Looking forward to your next issue. :-)
  • In reply to James L. Newman:

    Hi Jim! That's awesome! I have been thinking about starting the FM Complaints files back up. They were pretty fun. It's all real stories from real FMs, so I depend on folks sending me their war stories and favorite situations. There's one I just can't forget, where they discovered a dynasty of pigeons in the rafters. Just picturing someone sticking their head up into that horror show....Ugh. Makes me shiver.

    If anybody has any stories they'd like to share anonymously — crazy complaints, weird situations, or just the everyday unbelievable — please send me an email at
  • In reply to Naomi Millán:

    I hope you start the FM Complaints again. It was the one thing I always looked forward to reading. You have compiled a lot of good stories, many of which can be very relatable for most of us. I always got a good chuckle reading the complaints!
  • In reply to bolly71:

    Below is another hilarious episode from Naomi's book that we put in a blog on our website,, relative to FMs and building engineers getting out to "where the people are". If you click on the link at the end of that blog for Trade Press Media, you will be taken to a site where you can get that wonderful little book for only $9.99. Whether you're a FM or a building engineer, or simply somebody who works in a building, you can't afford not to get this book.

    This was at the end of our blog.
    "Diffuse difficult situations with humor when possible. Here’s a real-life example taken from Naomi Millan’s book 'What Drives FMs to Drink – 65 Occupant Complaints from the Field' published by Trade Press Media in 2014.
    'Two associates working in the beauty salon called me one day. One said she was hot and her girlfriend, standing next to her, was freezing cold. They wanted to know what I was going to do about it. I told them to just hug each other. A little humor changed the situation and we looked into their complaint. Never have gotten another call from them.'"

    There are many others like this in the book. Although perhaps not as funny, you will undoubtedly find some that you have experienced. And chances are, if you take my advice and get out once in a while, you’ll soon come up with some of your own. Along the way you’ll make the building more comfortable and more efficient, and you may even make some friends.
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