Winter Will Be the Death of Me Yet

9 Jan

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We had “snow flurries” yesterday.

Floridians call that “a near blizzard” and I am sure there are some enterprising souls who will be expecting their employer to declare a “snow day” today. But they won’t. They will expect everyone to scrounge around in the back of their closets, find something that will serve as a winter coat, bundle up and come on in to work.

Employers are like that—wanting you to show up for work and stuff.

I used to have a job that required me to travel to Maryland–often in January or February, as luck would have it. I stayed in a hotel that was less than a half a mile from the office.

One night it snowed big time. When I got up, there was white as far as the eye could see! It was hard to distinguish my rental car from all of the other big snow lumps in the parking lot because all of the cars were completely covered. “Oh, heck no!” I exclaimed–I am sure this had all the makings of a “snow day.”

Surely my employer will not open their offices today!

So I called the “Incliment Weather Hotline” with baited breath. The recording answered. A man’s voice recited the
date and then advised that the office would be open and said that everything is “business as usual.”

Business as usual?

Business as usual?! Has this guy even looked out his window? How is anyone expected to get to work under these conditions? A person could freeze to death or go snow blind (not sure what that is) or get snow sickness (might be making that one up) or something!

It is a good thing the rental car people had the forethought to provide me with a scraper-thing to clear my windshield. You can’t even buy one of those in Florida. You can buy pecan logs and gator repellent in Florida, but the scraper thing? Forget it!

As I was scraping the glaciers from the windows of the car, I felt the urge to share the experience with a friend.

“I know,” I thought (and it is a wonder I could think at all because you really would have thought my brain would have frozen solid by this point,) “I will call my friend and co-worker back in Florida–the one who grew up in New York, but was smart enough to move to Florida some years back.”

It is a miracle I was able to dial my friend’s desk phone–I don’t know how cell phones can even work in such bitter cold. Don’t the cells freeze up? I guess not because her voicemail answered.

After the beep I said, “Hey, Terri, this is Bill. And this is the sound of me scraping the ice off of my fucking windshield!” Scrape! Scrape! Scrape! said the scraper as I attacked the ice with all of my Flordian might.

When my friend got to work and listened to my message, she laughed and laughed.

Then she forwarded the message to HR and filed a formal complaint about me leaving obscenities on her voicemail.

True story! Except that last part about her forwarding the message and the formal complaint. She would never have ratted me out to those goons in HR!

After I got the windows cleared–all the while feeling just like William H.Macy in “Fargo”, I began the trecherous quarter of a mile journey to the office. While I was driving, I listened to local radio. The morning banter zoo crew people were going on and on about the weather and then they mentioned two things I had never heard of in my life:

  1. Did you know that car doors can freeze shut? Not helpful I am learning about this after I am alreay on the road. If I had had more advanced notice, I could have used this as an excuse not to go into the office. I bet those bastards would have expected me to walk! “It’s only a quarter mile…” Have they no heart?!
  2. Then they explained about the scariest cold thing of all. Have you heard of this “black ice”? It seems that sometimes during the day the snow starts to melt, but when it gets dark (which it does in the frozen north at like, 3:30pm) and the temperatures drop to below freezing (below freezing!) the melting snow–especially the snow on the roads under overpasses, freezes into sheets of ice that look for all the world like normal, la dee da, go ahead and drive as fast as you want road surface.

So your car slides, spins, maybe even rolls over–and you DIE!

That was many years ago, but I am pretty sure that is what they said–“If you drive on black ice, Bill, you will DIE!”

So of course I just assumed my employer would let me leave work well before sundown because they cared about my safety, right? Not so much, as it turns out.

Not only did they make me drive a full quarter of a mile to the office in post-blizzard conditions, they also did not let me leave early. I didn’t get out of there before 5PM. And, as I have already established, it was dark.

Time for the Black Ice to rise up and menace the innocent!

I white knuckled my way back to my motel. As I traversed inch upon inch of road on that harrowing quarter of a mile journey from Hell, I was convinced that at any moment the black ice was going to reach up and grab my rental car (I knew I should have taken that extra insurance!) and throw the vehicle, with me in it, into a dark, cold ravine.

Where I would DIE.

I don’t really know if there were any revines between the office and the hotel, but at that moment, as I was being terrorized by the sinister black ice, I was pretty sure that I knew exactly how that soccer team felt–you know, the ones who crash landed in the Andes Mountains who had to survive by eating their dead comrades.

Just like them, I was cold, I was scared and boy, was I hungry!

Fortunately the hotel had a happy hour buffet–after a few pigs in a blanket and two for one beers, I regained my normal intrepid composure.

And that is what winter means to me.

I had best scrounge around in my closet and find that winter coat because I need to get to work. I can only pray that those snow flurries did not freeze into black ice. At least I can take some comfort in the fact that between my house and the office, there are no ravines.

Happy Friday everyone. Stay warm!

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