In case you happen to be reading this from somewhere other than the Midwest, let it be known that we are in the midst of some very COLD weather.
“What did your thermometer read?” was this morning’s greeting of choice. Sometimes even before the perfunctory “Hello”. Answers ranged from 18 to 21 degrees BELOW zero.
When our ND weather is this cold several predictable behaviors occur. People leave their vehicles running. People wear multiple layers of clothing. People move quickly from warm vehicle to warm building. All reasonable responses to our desire to stay warm and to avoid freezing a patch of exposed skin in 30 seconds or less.
What astonishes-encourages- uplifts me are the other behaviors that we sometimes reserved North Dakotans display during these cold, cold times. We -
- Allow others access to windows in offices where they normally aren’t as that particular window has the best angle for a remote car starter to reach across the parking lot to start a vehicle.
- Watch for delivery people and be opening the door even before the doorbells completes its dinging to lessen the amount of time the delivery person needs to be standing outdoors.
- Hold doors open for others rushing in from the cold, whether their arms are full of packages or not
- Pedestrians not only have the right-of-way, they have right-of-way for a half block back. Traffic comes to a halt well in advance of the brave individual who is so daring as to be walking out of doors.
- Hand a stranger your gloves for pumping gas. Contact with cold metal is a sure-fire recipe for losing a patch of skin. Most North Dakotans carry an “old” pair of gloves in their vehicle for the very job of pumping gas. If we see someone without this all important winter accessory, we are quick to lend a helping pair of gloves.
- Jumpstart vehicles without being asked. The simple act of popping open the hood of a disabled vehicle will generally trigger at least two calls of “I’ve got cables! I’ll be right there!” even before the vehicle’s owner can pull out their cell phone and punch in the number for AAA.
“I’ll go out with you.” The last ONE person out of the church, school, office or other building? Not in a ND winter. Escorts appear as the weather intensifies. What if a vehicle did not start? Or a promised ride home did not arrive? Or re-entry to a warm building was not possible? To allow one person and their lone vehicle to be the only one remaining would be a serious breach of ND winter etiquette.
It’s cold. It’s ND. And I couldn’t do without it.