Friday, February 14, 2014
Wisconsin 101: Throwing a coat over a puddle
So I was waiting for the bus and it was cold - cold cold, not regular Wisconsin cold. This happened in early January at the beginning of the polar vortex, when we had a few days of 20 below and lots of people stayed home from work and the schools closed and then it got warmer and we all thought, Whew! I'm glad that's over! Now we can get on with things -
Only the cold has continued and now it is normal for it to be 20 below and we are all cranky but what can you do? It's ultra cold and you wear all of your clothes at once and you Deal With It because this is the midwest and for all our bad hair and bad fashion, our faults do not include whining.
Our faults probably include the tendency to invade, as there are a lot of Germans here, but really, we don't want Illinois blessitsheart and Michigan gets more snow than we do and although I personally love Iowa after living in Cedar Rapids for six months, I don't see much there besides cornfields. And Minnesota? I prefer the Packers to the Vikings. So it's not because we have great self control to keep ourselves from rolling over Belgium, it's just that there's nothing else we want from the other states.
Where was I?
Oh. It's so darn cold. And snowy. The rule should be you have one or the other, but not both. And technically, that is how it's been. It's either been bloody cold or it's been snowing. The weather has been kind enough to alternate to give us the worst of both worlds.
So I have to wait outside for the bus as the wind whips through the Milwaukee version of skyscrapers -
I helped a Chinese kid find his bus last summer. As we walked up Water Street, he gazed in awe at a ten-story building. "Is that a skyscraper?" he asked. (He must have been from rural China.)
I told him that for here, yes, it was.
-- I have to wait in the cold and the wind for the bus. On this day, it was cold and it was snowing and the sidewalk was already full of snow and the curb was piled high with slushy snow.
I finally spent the money to get decent snow boots this year. Last year, I used the slip-on snow boots that I got at Goodwill for five dollars. I knew I needed better boots, if for no other reason than to have better traction on the ice - you know we have a Driveway of Death - but also to keep my feet warm. I had seen some North Face boots I really liked, but they are made in China.
And you guys know we do our best to avoid Made in China because we don't want Made by Political Prisoners Whose Organs Are Harvested By An Oppressive Regime That Denies People Their Human Rights.
But we do have a clause b452 that Made in China is Ok if it is secondhand, as that means the money stays in our community. Plus it is very hard to find items not made in China. And even Made in Vietnam is not much better. They are a lot of sweatshops and bad worker conditions. I know these factory jobs are a step up for many people - but we already went through an Industrial Revolution here with child labor and women getting mouth cancer from holding radioactive materials in their mouths as they painted watchfaces and we know these things are bad. Do we need to re-do them in the third world? Can't we skip to decent working conditions for everyone? I am not even a hardcore activist on any of this, but I don't see why it's necessary for Apple to wake employees up at midnight to make iPhones. Can't we wait an extra eight hours for our phones?
Political rant over. You guys know I try to avoid politics here. This is generally a politics-free zone.
Back to boots. I found the boots on eBay, barely used. So now I have warm boots. And I have my sweatpants. And my fleece-lined tights. But I was still cold. And I did not want to walk through the slush to get on the bus. Even though the whole point of snow boots is that you can walk in the snow and the slush, I don't want to get them slushy and salty and nasty unless I can't get around it.
I was waiting for the bus, looking with dismay at the pile of slush I would have to traverse to board the bus. There was a man standing next to me, talking on the phone. As the bus approached, he looked at me, looked at the snow, then walked over to the snow and kicked me a path to the bus. He never stopped talking on the phone and when the bus arrived, he didn't even get on it.
He just kicked me a path to be nice.
Because sometimes, that's how out of fashion, bad-haired Midwesterners roll.