Sunday, January 28, 2007

Wind Chills

My computer tells me it's zero degrees outside with a wind chill of 13 below. Brrrr! It must be January in Iowa. I was reminded of the last winter I hauled mail. We had ice and snow with dangerous wind chills. I had gotten stuck in a snow drift and had to walk back to a farm house and ask to be pulled out by the farmer. Luckily he was kind enough to brave the 65 below wind chill to start up his tractor and get me out of the ditch. That's when I realized that $10 an hour wasn't worth risking my life over.

I had wanted to be a rural mail carrier pretty much all my life. I remember watching Don Reese load his VW Bug from floor to ceiling with packages and bundles of mail when I was a little girl and thinking he must have the best job in the world. I especially liked watching in the spring when he delivered the baby chicks. He carefully placed the peeping box of fluff on top of the mail, wedging it into place with boxes and bags until he could get his precious cargo to its destination.

The desire to deliver mail never left me. I took my Rural Carrier exam in Sioux City along with about a hundred other hopefuls in 1986, and in 1988 was hired as a sub for a route in Onawa. I was so happy because part of my route covered my beloved hills. I even delivered Don's mail, which made me so proud. I believe he was proud of me as well. Even when I demolished his mail box by pulling out with the lid still down! He graciously forgave me and told me of his "mishaps" on the job as well. (I will say that his was the only mail box I toppled in all the years I hauled mail.)

In 1989, when we moved to West Bend, I was able to transfer my route to the Rolfe post office. I also liked that I worked every weekend as the sub. (The different length and size of the routes dictate how often a sub can work.) I drove 128 miles, in three different counties and was rarely out of sight of the West Bend Elevator.

Most of the time, it was a pleasant drive in the country. Except in winter. Especially in that winter of 1993. That's when I almost died trying to find someone to help pull me out of the ditch. That was before cell phones of course. Now, I wish I still had the route. It was the perfect job for me. I went to work and cased my mail, loaded my car and took off. Other than the visit with the postmaster in the morning, I didn't have to talk to another soul for the rest of the day if I didn't wish to. I could listen to what I wanted on the radio, smoke a cigarette when I wanted, pet the dogs who greeted me at the mail box, and just generally have my "alone time" with nothing but my thoughts to keep me company. Pure heaven!

But - on days like today - I sure am glad I'm not out freezing my butt off lugging mail to boxes that have been plowed in by the snow plow and praying that the wind won't blow me into the ditch. Give and take, eh?

Wishing anyone reading this warm thoughts.


MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Well, you surprise me. What a fun job except maybe not today.
Excellent write up.

Sally said...

Hi Tanna - yep, it was the perfect job in my humble opinion. Thanks for your kind comment.