Wednesday, January 26, 2011

That which does not kill us, makes us stronger

 Or sometimes it just makes us wish we were dead...
 Last night (a few days ago by the time you read this), the temperature bottomed out at around 15 below zero Fahrenheit (about -26C for those of another system) and I was on Duty. I prayed that little old lady had curled up with a nice book and would not be requesting our company. The wind chill factor was just disgusting (around around 20-30 below). Thanks goodness my prayers were answered because if anybody had called us last night I would have been delayed at best.
 So here's how my day went:
 My trusty Dodge 2500 pickup (which ALWAYS starts and runs well) would not start for love, money, or pleading. I grudgingly scraped the ice off of our seldom used (this time of year) mini-van (the 'chick magnet') but found that the door was frozen shut. ALL the doors were frozen shut! This van has 5 freaking doors and they were all frozen shut. 15 minutes of working with tools that were NOT designed to be used on painted and polished surfaces and I managed to get a door open and get in. I drove that to work realizing half way in that I had left all my Fire, EMS, and cold weather gear in the truck.
 I arrived at work and tried to put the disturbance in the force created by my truck's failure, out of my mind. Stuff like that bothers me util I get it fixed and put things right.
 Around 9:30am my wife called to let me know the heat (oil burner) had decided to take a break several hours earlier and the house was getting cold. I told her to call for service (we have a contract) and call me if anything went wrong.
 At 11:45 I checked in with the wife and she informed me that she had yet to see the service guy. "Fine", I said "I'll come home at noon and fix it". I told the boss I'd take a long lunch and fix my heat and take a shot at the truck while I was there. Trudging out to the van I found that, yup, the doors were frozen again. More cursing and prying.
 I arrived home to find the 'burner dude' here and working. He soon said it was "all fixed" and was writing his report. I started on the truck but soon got too cold to function ( it had warmed all the way up to '5' degrees F) so I came in the house to warm up. I checked the burner just for good measure and found it off on 'safety'. I told 'burner dude' to 'try again'. The second time, he was pretty sure he had it fixed and so was I because he did what I suggested the first time. I put almost 2 freezing hours in on the truck until I could not stand the cold anymore. Mostly I worked that long to make sure the heat in the house stayed functional. I shoved a battery charger up under the hood and went back to work to get SOMETHING accomplished today. As I tried to get out of the van, I learned out that the door was again frozen. Now here I am on the INSIDE of the van, and honest to God I can't get the door open. I am throwing my weight against the door and it will not give. I had to climb over the console and force open the passenger door to get out. I should have stayed home.
 Now I know you are reading this and thinking I am whining, complaining, feeling sorry for myself, or looking for sympathy. I assure you that none of those options are my point. I tell you all this so that you get an idea of what it's like to live around these parts and how simple daily life can get very complicated and difficult. While I was trying to start my truck at 6:30AM, there were 2 working structure fires in our county. I felt really bad for those crews. at 10am one of those departments had their second worker of the day. This evening when I got home, another one went up. People do some crazy stuff when the temps dip below zero, like using a claw hammer to pry their car doors open, or using a salamander to heat their house back up. Imagine how the folks in Canada feel. 35 below, geez, I don't think I could handle that for very long. I have camped comfortably in 20 below weather, BUT I was prepared for it and had the right state of mind and equipment. (I was also a hell of a lot younger, a little less smart, and was looking for an adventure, not comfort.) For routine daily chores we are not always thinking about changing modes just to get in the car and go to work.
 Just thought I'd share that.


  1. Some Canadian get used to the wacky weather and ridiculous cold after a while. Once it gets below a certain point it really doesn't get any colder. Also, I've never had a door freeze shut, but I hear you Americans talk about it all the time. What's up with that? Maybe our vehicles just know the consequences if they don't work properly :)

  2. Freeze and Thaw, that's the problem. Freezing rain helps also. If it stayed cold all the time, I doubt we would ever have a door freeze. But the temps can warm during the day or the heat of the vehicle melts snow and it filters into the door gaskets, freezing later. It hasn't happened to me in a while, but I guess it was my turn that day. Anything for a laugh. This was the first time in over half a century that I have ever been stuck INSIDE a vehicle due to freezing (Crashes, yeah, all the time, but not freezing).