Thursday, January 31, 2019

Fulfilling the public’s “right to know” caused me to freeze my fingers numb

Just about everybody who could find an excuse to justify it made a point Wednesday
Bogart's 'editor' never warned … 
of staying inside, not going anywhere and basically behaving themselves like a lazy slug.

I, however, was running around in the sub-zero freezing temperatures that, when combined with wind chill, felt something more like 50-below – all because of my work going about the business of trying to inform the general public.
… of winter weather reporting hazards

I AM A reporter-type person, willing to go out and seek the truth on a wide variety of issues; all with the thought and belief that I am somehow performing a sacred duty – letting the general public know what is happening in the world around them.

Wednesday’s temperatures, of course, dove down to such historically low levels that – for once – the weather was a legitimate news story.

In fact, I woke up Wednesday to learn that I was amongst the many thousands of people who had lost access to electricity during the overnight hours. Which is when I got a call from an editor-type person – ordering me to check out a tip about power outages.
Artsy images such as this … 

In this particular case, I was able to tell him from first-hand experience that there were places where there was no power.

ME, AND MANY of my neighbors, actually.

Which led me to getting into the car and driving around my neighborhood for a few blocks – looking for evidence that I wasn’t alone in being without power and no one could legitimately write me off as a financial deadbeat who fell behind on the electric bill.

I eventually found a good-samaritan type of person who was outside walking over to check on an elderly neighbor, while his own wife and child were resorting to using the fireplace to keep warm.

It made for a nice anecdote that eventually was contributed to a larger story about wintry weather conditions throughout Chicago on Wednesday.
… and scientific graphs don't adequately convey how cold Wednesday was
BUT I HAVE to confess, I was only out of the car and exposed to the elements for less than five minutes. I wore nice leather gloves that usually keep my hands warm.

When I was through, my fingertips were numbed. It actually took me about a half-hour for my digits to warm up to the point where I was physically capable of typing anything up that resembled news copy.

As I write this, I’m fine physically. There’s no lasting damage – although I wonder how much longer it would have taken before I had suffered some sort of lasting physical damage to my being. And if I could have mentally justified it.

I happen to know that when my father found out what I had done, he let it be known he thought his son was stupid (and didn’t get paid enough) for enduring such a brief moment.

BUT IT IS something I justify doing on the grounds that I’m trying to get the details, no matter how minute, about this historic day in Chicago history. Literally one in which our minus-50 degree figure will be regarded as the coldest ever in city history.

Also one where I lost count of the number of wiseacres who felt compelled to post blurbs on Facebook saying that Chicago was colder than both the North AND South poles. Even though news reports indicate we'll be back up to about 40 degrees by Monday.
Carmelo (left) and Rocco had enough sense Wednesday to 'do their business' within a minute, before racing back inside for the warmth of home
That may be factually true. But it doesn’t change much about the reality that I felt compelled to be outdoors (even though for just several five-minute bursts of time throughout the day) on this day when people who think they’re more sensible than myself made a day of doing as little as possible – and enjoying the likelihood that their employers told them to take the day off.

One final thought; will we remember this day come the summertime when we have one of those 100 degree-plus days and we’re complaining about how much we’re roasting – while thinking that a quickie blast of air from the polar vortex would somehow be a shot of relief.


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