I hate winter. I hate that within twenty-four hours a "fresh" snowfall becomes dirty, icy and ugly. I hate that loafers become as effective on snow as ice skates are on concrete. But mostly, I hate that winter requires me to do a lot of maintenance...on me. Despite gallons of lotion, my hands still peel and I look like well, "Winter hands" . It is nearly as bad for the top of my head. But despite my hatred for winter, my wife hates it even more. This is my fault. I moved her to Florida in 1998...from Toledo, Ohio. I remember picking her up in late May after having already started my new job. As she finished packing for the kids, she began packing her bag. Movers were scheduled to arrive a few weeks later so we just needed clothes for Florida, the rest would arrive later. She was packing sweaters. In her defense, it was 48 degrees and raining in Toledo. Jacksonville was 82 and sunny. It is fair to say that today, while now living in eastern Pennsylvania, we both remain recovering Florida-holics. Winter makes us both a bit high maintenance...physically and emotionally.
So last week when I arrived in Michigan (Also a former home state), I was thrilled to find a brilliant sunny day. It was about 30 degrees out but sunshine does help the mood. My mood was temporary though as I knew the forecast...4-6 inches of heavy, wet snow the next day. The forecasters were correct and by late afternoon it was on. We shut our negotiations down a bit early and all headed out the door. Snow started falling at the rate of an inch an hour so I did what any Florida-holic would do. I went out in it. I wanted dinner. Weather be damned.
I arrived at the restaurant down the road from my hotel (for my second straight night...I get in routines/sometimes ruts) and made my way through a snowy parking lot and walkway. I was prepared and had winter shoes. My mood was moderate, quite good actually for this time of year. I sat down and ordered. While I waited for my food a young 30 something man came in. He was dressed in slick-casual attire, had a modern day briefcase (backpack), two smartphones and "stylish" hair. He sat down two chairs away from me at the bar. He was well within earshot. The bartender greeted him with a hearty "Hello, what can I get you"? "30" responded with "You need to shovel your walk". He didn't smile. It was snowing an inch an hour... The bartender apologized and asked again for his order. "30" needed a drink menu.
After finally deciding on his drink, a white wine, "30" got on one of his phones and called his hotel. He introduced himself by his first name (they appeared to know who he was). He had a complaint (I'm guessing not his first of the day). The room two doors down appeared to have a smoker in it and "The second hand smoke was overwhelming"...again, this was from two doors down. The hotel appeared to offer him a room change but that did not appease "30". He wanted his room charges to be waived. This went on for 10 minutes and I think I saw tears welling in "30's" eyes. He was quite emotional. My dinner arrived so I stopped listening.
Part way through dinner a small unattended child began running up and down the entrance ramp (which is actually inside the building). I did not notice the child at first until the first cough. I am a certified germaphobe and some of my worst illnesses have come from innocent little cherubs who wander into my perimeter of defense. I quickly realized "running toddler" was far enough away to not infect me and I forgot about him...until "30" asked the bartender to "See if someone could stop that child". The bartender said he would talk to the hostess and left. "30" made eye contact with me and sighed. I groaned. "Can you believe this"? He said to me. "I'm sorry...believe what" I responded. "That child. I don't see any parents that remotely look to be attached to "it" and he is coughing and spreading germs EVERYWHERE". I had to admit he was right on both accounts but I had already planned my escape route where I would not have to touch anything so I was not overly concerned. I barely nodded. "I mean, it Allll comes down to the parents. My niece is perfectly behaved. I mean I go over to my sister's house every other Saturday night for dinner and she is an angel. And she covers her mouth. This child has not been properly parented". I nodded and asked "30" how many kids he had. "I don't have any...and I doubt I will ever...too much work". No kids. Seems he just wants to be a parental coach. I secretly wished him to have at least three children...but I guessed that was not going to happen. Just a hunch. Maybe it was the white wine order...
On Friday I was in line at the airport to get breakfast. If I don't get breakfast, I can act a bit like "30"... though I still don't order white wine. The line was long and the process slow. After ten minutes I was in full travel coma and really did not care how long it was going to take. This is the beauty of the travel coma...you block out most annoyances. Most. Out of nowhere I was jarred out of my coma by an older gentleman who was irate at the bagel store manager because he believed he had been overcharged for his coffee. I watched and listened for a moment as the slow process now came to a dead stop. Every worker was watching "angry coffee guy." It was slightly entertaining until he said "You have a sign out front that says a medium coffee is included, why do you advertise that and then charge for the coffee? This is false advertising!" That was my signal, despite having wasted ten minutes at the slow bagelry, I got out of line and left. There was another place where I could get anti "30" behavior insurance down the terminal. As I walked out, I heard a young woman ask her travel companion about "angry coffee guy" "Why do you think he is so mad about the coffee"? She asked.
I thought to myself...maybe his kids misbehaved but more likely...it has to do with the weather...