Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The day it never warmed up

In this story the laugh is on me. Which is, I think, a great way to tell a story. It happened like this. There was a chance to accompany my husband when he had some work to do out of town. This was a few years ago. It required staying in that city a few days.

It was early February and bitterly cold. Being a good Midwestern city it had enclosed skyways for walking in comfort high above the blustery streets of downtown. The skyways linked our hotel with shopping. I couldn't wait to get started.

It was great fun rambling the the sky walks. There were shops in every building linked one to another. It was blissful to be snug inside moving smartly along. The big glass windows of the walkways let me look down and observe how bundled up everyone was. They looked miserable huddled in their small groups at the intersections waiting for the lights to turn green.

A temperature sign was visible from one of the glassed-in corridors crossing to another building. It read -012.

"That's about what they said it was going to be," I nodded, thinking of the TV meteorologist who with such glee forecasts the expected brutal weather conditions.

I shivered deliciously, aware of how unwrapped I felt in my light layers. The heavy parka was out of sight and mind, cast aside back at the hotel as if it would never be needed again.

Around noon I happened to pass the temperature sign again. I made a point of seeing how much it had warmed up.You call that warming up? I said to it. It had gone up to a miserable -06.

Product of a small town, it's my nature to believe that a conversation opportunity awaits with every next person you see.

"Can that be the temperature?" I asked a woman approaching from the opposite direction. Arctic blast or not, it seemed that by the lunch hour the sun should be warming things better than that. The number seemed like a very poor effort on someone's part.

She turned and looked at the sign with me. A businessman, striding by, heard the question and wheeled around. With a smile on his face he said, "That's not the temperature, that's the Dow Jones."

The purpose of the sign made clear, a small detail previously missed registered on me. The marquee for the investment banking firm connected with the sign might as well have jumped across the street and joined us, so clearly did it show up now.

The woman and I looked at each other and laughed.We figured our helpful friend had a pretty funny story to bring back to his office.

And for the record, if anyone asks if I know anything about the Dow Jones I can modestly answer, "I've had my experience with it."

Ro Giencke - March 2011

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