I live in Southern California. What do I know about snow? Yeah, we have to go to the mountains to get snow. Many people will travel up the mountain roads to get to the ski areas, other families will make a day of letting the kids play in the snow. But really, what do Southern Californians actually know about snow?
Well, I’ll bet there are a great number of folks living in Southern California just for that reason. They got TIRED of dealing with snow! Am I right?
There are a small number of native Southern Californians who grew up here and if it ever does snow where they are, you don’t want to be on the road the same time as they are! They don’t know the first thing about driving in snow. In fact, you can tell a native Southern Californian by the way they drive… they don’t even need snow to drive the way they do!
So… we have two classes of people. Those who have lived where it snows and a few who don’t know anything about what it’s like to live where it snows.
I was part of the latter group. I was born and raised in Eureka California. Northern California, right on the Pacific Ocean. The storms that hit the Eureka area normally come from a north-westerly direction, from the Gulf of Alaska, but travelling entirely over the waters of the Pacific Ocean, the air temperature is almost always above freezing. It rarely snows in Eureka.
In 1996, I embarked on a new career as a truck driver. A 48 state truck driver. It was January 1996 when I climbed into a Freightliner truck and sat behind the steering wheel for the first time, well that’s not entirely true, they made me go through “Truck Driving School”. But that isn’t really driving a truck. They taught me a little about shifting, a little about how to back up a truck into a loading dock, and precious little about how to keep a truck weighing 80,000 lbs safely on the highway. That job fell to my trainer at
Werner Enterprises. So in many ways, I feel like I didn’t really learn how to be a truck driver until I actually drove a fully loaded truck down the Interstate.
January 1996… Denver Colorado… I had never seen a frozen lake before!! We headed north out of Denver and as soon as we left the city behind us, my trainer pulled off into a rest area and announced it was my turn.
The road was ‘White!’ It was supposed to be ‘Black! What turned out to be ‘White’ was my knuckles on the steering wheel! This was Scary! My trainer assured me the truck would actually have pretty good traction on the ‘White’ Stuff, as long as I didn’t do anything stupid. Like jamming on the brakes. Wait a minute!, “how do you expect me to stop?” “You don’t jam on the brakes, you do ‘what we call’ “Feather” the brakes. Just the lightest foot pressure…” That is why they teach truck drivers to keep 8 car lengths of space between ‘us’ and ‘Them” I know… How many truck drivers do you see actually keep ONE car length between the ‘us’ and ‘them’… I said they “Teach” truck drivers to do this. Truck drivers aren’t known to “Obey” anybody!! That is the main reason you see so many trucks in the median and over the side of the highway, usually rolled over on their ‘side’!
I am very thankful I had a trainer who insisted on a healthy respect for snow and Ice on the highway. He taught me to look far ahead, anticipate trouble and always have a plan, and he taught me to NEVER turn the steering wheel sharply or quickly. And I learned how to “Feather” the brake, stop slowly and gradually. I was privileged to become a trainer myself and over the course of about 15 years, I was able to instill some of these same principles in about 50 students.
So, what does this have to do with “Cold wet hands – Warm dry hands”
Well, first of all, I learned what a “Pansy” I was… I could count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I had ever really had “Cold” hands before I began driving truck. To this day, I have never shoveled a walk! What I learned driving a truck across the country in the winter is how ‘Brutal’ the winter is. I wrote in my last blog about fueling my truck in Cheyenne Wyoming in January with the wind blowing 30 MPH and the temperature below “O” Burrrrr.. “That’s Cold!!” I have been to North Dakota in January when it was 30 below “O” and I am sure there are many people who have experienced a lot worse than that! But the secret to keeping frostbite away is keeping your hands “Dry”. The same goes if the temperature is only in the “teens” or even the “20′s”. Keep your hands “Dry”, hopefully have some insulation between your hands and the cold handle of the snow shovel, and you can complete the job of shoveling the walk, or sweeping the snow off the windshield and get on with your day with nice “Warm” hands!
Now that I am retired from truck driving, I want to make our “Waterproof Insulated Leather Work Glove” available to everyone who has to get out in the cold, wet, snow and deal with the “elements”
My Hat is off to the hardy souls who live just about everywhere else except Southern California and Florida. I just put my hat back on… my head was getting cold.