We all know that one guy. The one guy who wears shorts the entire year. Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night, no matter what the weather is, shorts are that guy’s preferred attire.
I am that guy.
Growing up in the northeast, we experienced our fair share of less than seasonable weather. I also had my fair share of winter weather clothing as a youth. I put my snow boots on wearing Wonder bread bags. I had the pairs of mittens that had a string running up your sleeve that fastened both mittens together to ensure there was no way to lose just one mitten. You had to lose both of them together. I had the little pompoms on my winter hat. We always had the lined up winter boots melting snow onto the floor right by the back door. I knew that when you were snow blowing a driveway to always shoot the snow downwind, no matter the circumstances. I had the cold weather thing down to a T.
|This is also an acceptable way to put on a Survival Suit. So it's nautical.|
|You may lose your mittens, but at least they will be lost together.|
Now that I’m an adult (arguable), I’m done with snow. I moved to the south. No more blizzards for me. Sure we get a snow storm or two down here. But the worst thing that happens is that they close school for a week. Apparently, the south agrees with me that shoveling should be done by the sun.
Alas, sometimes my job keeps me up in the northeast during the winter. This winter has been no exception. The work has been steady and plentiful. But it has also been cold. Cold winters kind of go hand in hand with keeping busy. And as long as people keep using home heating oil, the work transporting home heating oil to those in need will continue.
This year hasn’t been particularly cold. We have had some cold snaps. But the weather usually turns warmer after a few days. There have been a few days where the temperature was below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. That magical number where water freezes and the weather personalities on TV lose their collective minds. Pipes freezing, wind chills, Real-Feel temperatures, wearing layers, exposed skin, etc. all ad nauseum on the news when the magic number appears on the Exclusive Accu-Weather forecast. But so far, nothing that would prevent me from continuing to wear shorts 365. Until 2 weeks ago.
I have a few weather related phrases that drive me crazy. First and foremost, “safely out to sea”. I loathe this one. Sure, the weather system is going out to sea, away from everyone on land. Except for us. Those of us that work out to sea are about to get an ass kicking. Thanks, weather reading bobble head. A close second is, “frozen tundra”. Tundra, by definition, is frozen ground. So saying frozen tundra, is really just saying frozen frozen ground. So stop it. And the third weather cliché, and the reason for this post, is the newly emerging one, “polar vortex”. It popped up a few years ago for some reason. And now anytime the mercury dips down low, some newscaster has to explain a brief dip on the thermometer as being caused by a “polar vortex”. I’m sure I have a social media post out there threatening the first TV personality to mutter “polar vortex” with irreparable harm.
|Not all weather is bad. Look at that relative humidity.|
Which brings me to the point of this post. Finally.
A few weeks ago, the dreaded polar vortex descended upon the northeast. Concurrently, we were also scheduled to crew change in the northeast. I flew in Boston’ Logan Airport decked out in my New England Patriots sweatshirt (it was a few days before the Super Bowl) and a trusty pair of shorts. A slight breeze was blowing and a gentle snow was falling as well. It was below that magical 32 degrees, but I wasn’t planning on spending a long duration outdoors, so I could still pull off wearing shorts and a hoodie. The boat was delayed getting into the berth so I picked up the Chief Engineer and we headed off to do a bit of grub shopping and buy some new linens for the tug. After wasting a bit of time in the local Target store we headed out with our cache of food and our recently purchased Star Wars and Avengers bed sets. As we loaded our items into the car, the temperature had taken a noticeable dip and the wind had increased substantially. “I’m still good”, I thought, wrongly so. We next made a stop off at the neighboring Wendy’s fast food establishment. Where the Chief got some food and I bought (wait for it) a Frosty. We headed back out to the car to finally go meet the boat at the dock, which is when I made a fateful decision. I swung the car around and we headed back to Target.
“Hey, the guy with the shorts is back!” the cashier at Target greeted me. “What you forget?”
“Pants. Mistakes were made.” I replied sullenly.
The guy who wears shorts 365 days a year, had finally met his match.
In my hand was a pair of sweat pants and two pairs of gloves. My Engineer had bought himself a winter jacket during our earlier foray at this particular Target store. I, one the other hand, had bought a pair of flip flops. Our priorities were quite a bit different. However, the Chief had neglected to buy a pair of gloves. At this point, knowing that a pair of pants, even for me, as going to be required. I figured a $5 pair of gloves would be a welcome purchase. So $30 later, I walked out of Target with a pair of pants and two pairs of gloves.
|It's colder than a witch's... Well, you know.|
And never has $30 been so well spent.
When we got to the dock, the temperature had dropped to 2 degrees. The wind was blowing a steady 30 mph. I’ll let you do your own wind chill math. It was COLD. As we sat in the car blasting the heat and waiting until the absolute last minute to grab our purchases and make a mad dash run to the boat, one of our other crew was parked next to us. He cracked his window just enough for me to hear him.
“Are you wearing shorts?” he teased.
“Yes.” I didn’t tell him they were under my newly purchased sweatpants.
The weather had beaten me.