Thursday, January 8, 2015

We really were Number 1 (as in degrees, Fahrenheit) on Wednesday

When I woke up Wednesday, the television got tuned quickly to the Weather Channel, where after listening to some sissy Atlantans complain about cold and snow a report came along from Chicago indicating the current temperature was 1 degree.

What a depressing thought. One mere degree!!!

THE NATIONAL WEATHER Service indicated that the day did warm up slightly – Jan. 7, 2015 officially had a high temperature of 6 degrees recorded at O’Hare International Airport.

But the fact is it is cold out there. And not just winter weather cold (we’re used to that). I’m talking about hazardous to one’s life cold, if one doesn’t have enough sense to take precautions. What went through the heads of all those “Polar Bear” types (the ones who insist on taking a New Year’s Day swim) is beyond me.

Many school districts, including the Chicago Public Schools, have cancelled classes the past two days. In fact, the Chicago schools made the call Wednesday afternoon that they were going to remain closed for Thursday.

Which has led to complaints from people who seem determined to find something to gripe about. Stupid school administrators turning our kids into sissies who can’t cope with a little cold weather.

AS THEY WANT to see it, the snowfall stopped days ago, the streets are largely cleared, and they want to view it as ridiculous that kids can’t make a short walk to school – no matter how cold the temperature is.

Which is something I’ll have to admit seems unusual. Although I found it amusing the Facebook-posted observation of one of my former City News Bureau of Chicago counterparts who recalled winters past of having to check with stores on snow shovel sales as part of weather story coverage. If only that were a significant issue this week.

This winter and last may have seen schools close more than I recall schools closing back the entire time I was still required to get a basic education (which was the 1970s and early 1980s).

I recall the winter of 1977 in junior high school because that was a particularly cold spell for Chicago. I recall the school closings, and listening to local radio stations in suburban Lansing and Hammond, Ind., to see if our local schools were closed.

I STILL HAVE the memories of the day where the temperature dipped to about zero, yet my school district did NOT close. Although as I recall, my mother felt it was ridiculous for me to make the roughly six-block walk in that kind of temperature, and she had me and my brother (who had about a two-block walk to his school) stay home.

She wound up writing me the note for my teacher that basically said “Please excuse Gregory. It was too cold to send him to school.”

Believe it or not, the teachers accepted that, and my absence that day was excused.
But what really sticks in my memory is that winter temperatures were in the 30s to 20s (in degrees, Fahrenheit). The number of days that dipped below zero were truly rare.

IT IS WHY I find it bizarre the number of such frigid days we have experienced in recent years.

It also makes me think that the people who are complaining that the schools are closed are ones who have overly-heated offices to work out of, and probably have the heat in their cars turned up full-blast!

If, by chance, they had to shovel their own sidewalks, they’re probably now griping beyond belief once they got back inside their homes.

In my case, I have worked from home this week. I haven’t really had to go outside – except to check the mailbox to see if the proverbial paycheck is “in the mail” and which bills will eat up every single penny of it!

SO PERHAPS I’M willing to give those school officials some understanding on why it might not be best to expect so many kids to converge on their buildings on days like this week. I also feel sympathy for the mail carrier whose job required him to trudge to my front door on a daily basis.

The last thing we need is an increase in frostbite cases that need to be reported on – or other illnesses being triggered by the Arctic-like temperatures we’re now facing in Chicago.


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