By Eric Thomas
Yesterday I put on two sets of underwear over my long underwear, two pairs of socks, a long sleeve shirt, a hoodie, a hoodie over the other hoodie, a hat, a parka, three hoods all up on each of the outerwear, a scarf around my face and gloves so I could go out into the hall of my apartment building and check the mail. On my way to the car, I spat speculatively, heard a crack that startled me, until I realized my spittle crackled in the air. Just kidding, that didn’t happen. I was too bundled up to try it.
So this is the Polar Vortex. Good to see that the weather from “The Day After Tomorrow” is happening now. Michigan residents are always apoplectic in the winter but we trudge through. Frigid temperatures and unusually harsh winters are part of living in the area—no one said we have to like it, but this is ridiculous. Blizzards, white-outs and flash freezes happen on an annual basis but wind chills measured in Kelvin are where we all draw the line.
Hopefully this has been going well for you. I’ve been holed up in my house with enough congestion to feel like my head has been filled with expand-o-foam. I’m eating a lot of soup, the human equivalent of setting up a salt lick in the kitchen. When my dog sits by the door, I slam him against the wall, oppressive regime style, finger an inch from his eyes, and demand he tell me he’s serious about going out this time—not just asking to go out so that he can jump around in the deep snow and sniff various smells for 10 minutes before collapsing from the cold and whining until I pick him up—at 60 pounds—and carry him into the warmer environs. I’ve watched almost every Coen Brothers movie on iTunes*.
Even the highways are sheets of ice. Usually there are a minimum of three lanes open on 696, 275 or 75 but the road crews can only do so much. At this temperature, ice laughs at salt.
I feel bad for the plow drivers and salt trucks. They’re trudging through this misery along side us, both in the way and not doing enough. They’re doing a ridiculously necessary service for a relatively small wage considering their impact. Could you imagine if there was a massive plow-driver strike in the beginning of a blizzard? They’re accepting low wages and long hours because they’re being nice. Give them a wide amount of space.
The weather says it’s going to get better by Saturday. A 40 degree temperature isn’t very high, but it sounds almost erotic right now. There also might be rain. Don’t be surprised if you drive through your neighborhood on Saturday and see fellow residents of southeast Michigan stretched out and on their backs on the sidewalk, sunning their bellies like salamanders, bodies strewn in various poses, shoulder to shoulder with limbs overlapping, their mouths open to catch the relatively warm rain and bathe in the humidity of the evaporating snow around them.
There are plenty of people who’ve had it worse. There were reports of broken water mains in Southfield at 5 a.m. I can’t even imagine how awful that would have been. It was 30 degrees below the freezing mark this morning. The plow drivers, the police officers, the garbage men, the firefighters—everyone who has to endure these conditions to pull down a meager paycheck deserve a tip of the cap. As much as your patience has been tested by the constant isolation of being inside and the white-knuckled nightmare that is driving right now—everyone around you is experiencing the exact same thing. We’re all in this together, even that idiot going 80 mph on the highway.
Caution, preparation, and above all patience. Stay warm.
* I even watched Intolerable Cruelty.