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Reading Comprehension
Volume 5, Number 17, January 24, 2000

Winter Heat


“Why do we even live in this part of the country?” Mr. Smitty asked. He was standing on the school playground with Mr. El as they watched their students playing in the snow.
“I know what you mean,” Mr. El said. “It’s 48 degrees in January and everyone thinks it’s a heat wave!”
“It’ll probably be 20 below again before you know it!” Mr. Smitty complained.
Suddenly Mr. El noticed movement by the far corner of the building. “Look who’s coming,” he announced loudly.
The two men could see Miss Joan leading a procession of little people marching toward the playground.
“I don’t remember the last time I’ve had a chance to chat with Miss Joan,” Mr. Smitty remarked.
“I don’t remember the last time I’ve had a chance to annoy Miss Joan,” said Mr. El.
Miss Joan was smiling and obviously in a very good mood. “Run and play, children,” she said in her usual quiet and pleasant voice. It was instantly clear that her kindergartners had no trouble hearing the command. “And how are you gentlemen?” she asked.
“Almost warm,” Mr. Smitty replied.
“Yes, thank goodness for global warming,” Mr. El added, suppressing a grin.
“I beg your pardon!” Miss Joan responded, looking not at all pleased.
“Hopefully, today is part of a trend,” Mr. El went on. “If the average temperature of our planet would shoot up, say fifteen or twenty degrees, living around here in the winter would be tolerable.”
“What about the summer?” Miss Joan demanded.
“I like hot weather.”
“Oh, you like hot weather!” Miss Joan shot back sarcastically, doing her best not to shout.
Mr. Smitty decided to join the fray. “We could buy nice summer homes in northern Canada,” he suggested.
“I know that you know better, Mr. Smitty. Your colleague is another matter!” Miss Joan said in a less than pleasant tone. She turned to Mr. El. “I suppose it’s fine if everyone living near the oceans is washed away by the rising water when the polar icecaps melt, just so that you can be warmer without moving farther south.”
“Don’t be silly,” Mr. El said in as sincere a voice as he could manage. “It won’t be one giant tidal wave. People will have time to gather up their belongings.”
It was quite evident that Miss Joan was no longer in a very good mood. She was no longer in any kind of good mood. “Come children,” she called, “we are going in!”
Miss Joan’s kindergartners were not happy about their surprisingly short recess, but they lined up dutifully and followed their teacher into the building.
“When are you going to tell her that you were kidding?” asked Mr. Smitty.
Mr. El laughed. “I guess I’ll wait till both the weather and Miss Joan cool down.”

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