With winter having an ice grip on the area, many people ask me how I’m doing as I deliver the mail. So I thought I would dedicate one post to how the weather affects me.
First off, it has been extremely cold here in west Michigan. It has been colder in other parts of the country, but all I know is where I’m at. This past Saturday, area temperatures did not rise above 5E Fahrenheit with winds gusting up to 35 mph. I don’t care how many clothes you put on, you’re going to be cold! Quite a bit of snow has fallen over the past two weeks here, with blowing causing some drifting as well. The sun came out today and yesterday, but temperatures did not rise above 20E Fahrenheit either day, so all that did was cause the snow to slightly melt and freeze causing slick surfaces.
How do I cope? First, physically. Dress in layers. Believe it or not, the old standby of long underwear works wonders. Beneath my postal windbreaker (which is beneath my winter coat with a liner) I wear a hooded sweatshirt, pulling the hood up over the top of my one or two hats that I happen to be wearing, then sometimes earmuffs on top of that. This would all be unnecessary if I still had my old style hat with the long ear flaps that snaps underneath the chin. I misplaced it and I think I’m going to have to buy a new one. That thing was sweet. Keeping your head warm is essential.
Each carrier has learned their own little tricks over the years. One thing I do is swing my free arm (the one that’s not holding any mail) while I am walking. That creates more circulation and keeps my hand from freezing off which is always a bonus. I wear two pair of gloves on each hand, the smaller pair inside of a larger pair. The pair on the outside are like meat cutters gloves with little rubber dots on the outside which allows me to grip the mail and sort through it. I’ve had no luck with other types of gloves as some high gloss advertisements can be quite slick. You can’t be standing there trying to sort through the mail while it’s freezing outside. You’ve got to be able to keep moving.
Speaking of which, it’s useless trying to warm up inside your postal truck. The heaters work, but they don’t kick out heat like your own car does. It just ain’t happenin’. Your best bet is to move to the next street, get out, and keep walking. Once you get your circulation going, you’re only hurting yourself when you stop in an attempt to warm up. That’s one reason I prefer the walking routes in the winter. When you do the riding routes, your feet turn into blocks of ice and there’s nothing you can do about it.
Once in a great while, on a really cold day, I will take a little break and get a cup of hot chocolate somewhere. On Saturday I went to McDonald’s and got one for the amazing price of $2.64, that’s with no refill either, and no, it wasn’t supersized. It’s my own fault for not being a coffee drinker, right Jim?
But now, how about mentally? Most importantly, you can’t let the weather determine your attitude. If it’s a miserable day weather-wise outside, that doesn’t mean you have to have a miserable attitude. There are some weather-carriers. If the weather is poor, their attitude is poor. If the weather is great, their attitude is great. It’s not the weather report that should determine how you are going to act all day long.
It’s actually a question of whether or not you are going to decide to have a good attitude regardless of precipitation, temperature, and barometric pressure. You can decide whether you are going to be nice all day long before you even know what the circumstances are. It’s a choice that you make and continue to make all day long regardless of things that are thrown at you.
So when you get up in the morning and listen to the weather report, think to yourself, "What’s my whether report for today? What is my decision, whether I’m going to be positive, or whether I’m going to be negative?" You can decide your whether report before you even listen to the weather report.
As cold as it was on Saturday, I had a good attitude all day. I wonder what people think of me when I walk up, deliver their mail, smile, and tell them to have a nice day, when the weather is so bad? I really couldn’t do it without Christ.
Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13
-The Orange Mailman