Cold Day in Hello Operator

On Saturday, my mom expected it would snow yesterday. It did not, although there was some rain later in the day. I feel like the seasons have been shifting, weather-wise. It stays warm well in to October. It snows in April. So I didn't put much faith in the weathermen's call.

At some point in the limbo of dreams, I heard a tapping which drew me in to consciousness. I thought, ”Tis the wind and nothing more!” Yet it persisted, and so I stumbled, half-asleep to my windowshade and lifted it to peer out in to the night.

The sun was not yet up but snow covering the world tends to make it much brighter. And set against this sudden bleaching was a shivering 74 year old man in a crooked knit Giants hat partially off his head, clutching a snow shovel and shivering. It couldn't be Roberts Blossom; there was no scraggly beard and wild eyes that would scare Kevin McCallister until he saw his heart and understood the true meaning of Christmas or something. No, this was my own father, stammering something that was lost between the windowpanes and the wind. I got the gist of it though; the backdoor had frozen, sealing him out when he went to get the paper.

I moved as fast as my state of partial paralysis would allow, misreading the kitchen clock as 7:45 rather than 6:45 and thinking “O Cwap! I'd overslept!” Oversleeping is bad. I let him in as he stated the obvious about how cold it was out there. Sure enough, the metal latch on the outer door was frozen solid. You could get out, but not in if it closed all the way.

The main problem was that it had rained first and then the temperature dipped severely. We only had 2-3 inches here, but it was enough. I bundled up and headed out to clean off my car. The door was frozen shut and despite being unlocked, I thought the handle would come off in my hand before the door itself budged. I let the car run as I worked at the ice, feeling my own body temperature dip and my movements slow. I was not going to be able to stay out for long and decided to head in for breakfast and a break before tackling the driveway. In the tail end of a bad cold, my lungs weren't letting in that much air to begin with. Despite clogged arteries, increasing dizzy spells, and growing fatigue, I heard the familiar sound of my dad coming outside to be at once stupid and admirable. I admire his strength and stubbornness, his ability to always keep going and let little slow him down. I wish I had half his work ethic and focus. But I've been worrying about his health for the last ten years since we learned of his heart condition, and since he's been dizzy and his blood pressure's been frequently low the last few months, I've been especially worried. Nothing seems to stop my dad, and I don't want to see that happen. He's the most stubborn person I know, and direct confrontation is futile. I've tried every tactic I can think of when it snows to get him to go back inside, from a direct request to a more subtle, “I want to do this”. It only makes it worse. He takes it as a challenge and only does the opposite. So I had little choice but to let him help with the car, and he fortunately couldn't take the intense cold for more than a few minutes either. We went in and I had breakfast, and when I went back out to tackle the driveway, the exact same thing happened. I tried to help him clean his car and he told me through gritted teeth to get out of there. I began shoveling the entire width of our driveway and he told me to just shovel behind my car. Ultimately, my only “sane' recourse was to work faster than he was, something surprisingly easier said than done. Years of real, physical labor have left him far stronger than my sedentary lifestyle has left me. I shoveled most of the driveway though in record time, and felt it.

There's nothing worse than coming in from 14 degree weather drenched in freezing sweat. Your surface is ice cold but your insides are hot, and its a feverish feeling without the added problem of a cold. I was wheezing very badly right up until I left for work, and the slow crawl through snow and sand behind an endless line of cars was torture. It took me over an hour, well over twice my normal travel time, and I thought for some time I'd pass out at my desk. I felt better as the day went on and because today was the awards luncheon for a gym competition I was in, didn't actually leave the building until 7:30. Sometime in the afternoon I realized I hadn't even had my 10AM banana slices, I had been so out of it. Thankfully, when I came outside from gym it didn't seem as cold as it had this morning, and my door was not frozen.

Today is December 20th. Potentially, this may be what we're dealing with for the next three to four months. Here's hoping they go by quickly.

One last humorous aside: as I was furiously typing away about ten minutes ago, my mom shared some anecdote about her friend's cat that I half-listened to and mumbled in assent. She stood in the hallway for a moment, the air thick with silent motherly concern, before sharing, “I hope the FBI isn't going to be knocking on our door because of whatever it is you're doing there.” As I reread to her the last few things I had typed, the first four sentences of the paragraph beginning “The main problem was that it had rained first..”, a smile slowly graced her face and she walked away. And, now that she's “bought it”, I can get back to my real evil schemes....;-D


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