In Praise of Cold-Weather Professions

Duke Cannon knows that hard workers come in all shapes, sizes, and especially, settings, but this ode is reserved for the hearty souls who brave the winter months and navigate sub-zero temperatures in order to earn their living outdoors. So to those who favor the fur-lined hat and hood, are perpetually clad in coveralls, and proudly sport worn leather mittens: We salute you.


What can you really count on these days? The stock market? Your baseball team making it out of the divisional series playoffs without a true ace on the roster? Your toaster lasting longer than a couple of years? None of these are sure bets. The U.S. Postal Service, though? Now, there’s an outfit you can trust. And like many organizations (the E-Street Band for instance), they’re only as good as their people, which in this case means the dedicated men and women stout enough to stick it out when the wind chill sinks to downright scary and ankle-biting Pomeranians lurk behind every snowdrift, all to make sure the mail gets to where it’s going.


No one exemplifies the spirit of the winter worker/warrior like the snow removal professional, who’s likely to have pushed a few tons of wet sludge off acres of pavement before you have even staggered into the kitchen and pressed the brew button on your Mr. Coffee. Whether it’s by commercial-grade plow, three-stage blower, and even that most trusted of winter accessories, the humble shovel (Duke Cannon recommends a steel or aluminum blade), the snow removal professional more than earns every wave, salute and head nod that comes their way this time of year.


It’s not just pizza anymore. Thanks to smartphones and apps, people now order every kind of meal at all hours of the day. And when the weather makes for treacherous road travel, you can bet your bottom dollar there is still a guy out there casting all thoughts of human safety aside and ordering a single submarine sandwich to have delivered to his home. And when this hungry individual thoughtlessly hits that “order” button on his phone, who is it that makes damn sure it arrives? The stalwart men and women who make up the food delivery ranks, that’s who.


It doesn’t get any colder than standing on the iced-over deck of a schooner in a mid-February squall in the middle of the Bering Sea. Don’t believe us? Just ask the bearded fellow in the yellow slicker and bucket hat who’s been on boxes of frozen fish sticks since your mom was buying them in the late 70’s. Rest assured hauling in nets of cod on the high seas is frigid-weather work nonpareil. 


Technology is not yet to the point where that shopping cart you (hopefully) place in its corral at the grocery or home improvement emporium returns of its own power to the inside. No, it must be manually pushed, in a lengthy parade of other carts, through suboptimal conditions during winter months by a store employee. This thankless work in carried out in tough conditions so that you, the American consumer, can enjoy the convenience of gleefully stocking up on pillow-sized bags of chips, fresh meats, and 16-Penny nails. So please: be gracious and let the cart conga line conductor pass with a grateful nod.