Mold wars.

Sep. 10th, 2013 06:14 pm
cin1607: (Default)
[personal profile] cin1607


I manage programs across two museums, so some days I'm in my office at one museum, and some days I'm at the other. This summer, I've spent most of my time at our 18th-century arm, due to whining from my assistant managers about driving distances and extended hours during the summer. I'm a nice person, and my cats don't really care when I get home, so I've taken the museum that's a couple of extra miles up the road and my office at our 17th-century arm stayed closed.

Around the middle of August, one of our costumers called from our 17th-century museum to say we had a mold outbreak in the storage room. All of our used shoes had mold on them. I wasn't too worried, because you can only clean used shoes so much, and sometimes you get a little mold on the insoles. She scrubbed everything with vinegar and water and left them out in the sun to dry and we figured that would sort out the used-shoe-funk. Two days later, one of my assistants who'd just returned from a two week vacation called me to tell me his desk was moldy. I was a little more worried about that, but his office is usually a sty, so I told him to clean everything off with a little bleach water and hopefully that would fix it. I went over the next day to check things out.

I still keep a costume in my office hanging on the back of my door, in case I need to help cover a site, but the shoes live on the floor behind the door. My shoes were *crusty* with mold. I dumped them in a tub with bleach and water and scrubbed them and left them out in the sun to dry. And then started looking in earnest. It's everywhere, and we've been chasing it for three weeks now. My briefcase (which I don't carry all that often) was sitting on the floor next to my desk and it had molded. My bulletin board molded! (Which I was outraged by, because I thought the mold might be confined to things touching the carpets.) I had to take it down and throw it away--no way to clean mold out of cork. We're finding it in every carpeted room, creeping up the sides of the desks and on chairs and shelves. Yesterday, I found it on the picture frames in our director's office. And we're finding it more and more in the costume shop and storage areas--anything either leather or wool.

This week we've thrown our hands up. We've bleached every surface and cleaned the carpets, but it keeps coming back. We can't get ahead of it--it's got to be in the HVAC system. We've got environmental experts of some sort coming tomorrow morning to test air quality and take samples from inside our ducts. Hopefully they'll be more helpful than our head of facilities, who told us it's just dust. (Green, fuzzy dust that forms in circular patterns, check.) And then he told us that it's our fault because we keep our offices shut when we're not there. (Yes, because hello? Manager. Between personnel and budget projects, spare keys to all kinds of things, and sometimes expensive reproductions, I need to be able to secure my office.) And then he told us that it was our fault because we kept the fabric stored in bolts, and it would be better if we spread it out so air could get to it. Where he thought we'd spread a thousand yards of fabric, I have no idea. I tuned him out before he got to the part about the dirty, dirty interpreters, which just absolutely chaps my ass.

Anyway, we're moving into a modified continuity of operations plan for costuming at least. I've moved two costume techs to our central support complex for now, and the costuming supervisor and I will start bagging all materials to either be washed or dry cleaned and then moved out of the building to storage somewhere else. I've got to start logging hours. I ran a supervisors' meeting this morning that I barely had time to prepare for (and was interrupted anyway so I could give a mold tour to our head of safety and security.) I've got an after-hours all-staff meeting tomorrow evening that I'm not sure I'm going to have time to prepare for either. O.o The mold is eating my brain.

Boy do I miss interpreting! Can I just go back outside? I never had these kinds of problems in the fort. *g* And in the midst of all of this chaos, I delivered my "I'm serious!" check to my realtor this afternoon and the offer for the house is all signed and delivered now. Hopefully I'll know something Friday.
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