, Corbin, KY


February 13, 2014

Layer-up during winter

CORBIN — I’m sure I’m one of many folks who kept an eye on the weather Wednesday.

And while I was watching whether the huge southern snowmaker would choose a path in our direction, I ended up needing to get out of the office to work.

I drove around the Corbin area, and ended up stopping around a few places.

One place I stopped was pretty crowded.

There were people milling around everywhere, most of them bundled in coats, some even wearing scarves, hats and gloves.

So imagine my “surprise” when I saw this woman flouncing around in a pair of shorts, flip-flops, a sleeveless tank top and a jacket.

I rolled my eyes and kept walking on, but I ended up running into her again in the check-out line.

She was with her obviously smarter friend, who was dressed according to the current weather — he even carried an umbrella.

Then it goes beyond visual stupidity smack dab into audible stupidity the second she opens her mouth.

“I am freezing and I don’t know why,” she said.

I slowly turned around to make sure she said what I thought I heard.

“I guess I should have put some socks on,” she added. “But I can’t stand wearing these ‘flippers’ and fighting with the toe for room to walk.”

The guy just looked at her, sighed, and asked her the location of the boots he got her for Christmas.

“I didn’t want to get them dirty,” she said.

I chuckled at that, then immediately faked a coughing fit.

She got quiet for a minute, but I could hear her teeth chattering.

“Gimme your coat,” she demanded of the guy.

He refused.

“If you loved me you’d give me your coat,” she told him.

“I do love you,” he said to her. “I love you so much I told you to dress warmer. I love you so much I made sure you had new boots for Christmas. I love you so much I bought you a couple coats at yard sales over the summer. I love you so much I started the car and warmed it up because I knew you’d dress this way, no matter what I said.”

She responded to that remark with an off-color comment.

Several people were in the vicinity of this conversation, and many of them probably were like me — forced to eavesdrop but impressed with his answer to her childlike silliness.

Then she shocked me — she tugged on my sleeve and asked me for my coat.

I said nothing and just looked at her with one eyebrow raised.

She repeated her question.

Instead of answering her, I asked the man she was with if she was drunk or on drugs or something.

“No I wish it was that simple,” he sighed. “I don’t know what’s gotten into her today.”

I guess she must’ve reached for me again, because he turned to her and yelled at her to quit being so stupid.

“But I’m cold,” she whined. “And nobody seems to care.”

With that she turned to another man and asked him for his coat.

I can’t tell you exactly what he said, but everybody within earshot appeared to be ready to make their purchases and bolt from her presence.

That’s when the real fit began and she stormed off, demanding that someone in that store give her a coat.

The man she was with apologized, left his cart and made a beeline for her.

I couldn’t believe I watched this play out.

I mean, we all see people out in this kind of weather dressed like they’re going to a summer barbecue. Half of them walk around with their hands in any available pocket, frozen but “hip” in their summer clothes.

Those same people often are the ones we see wearing the winter stuff they forgot about in January on their heads and hands in July.

I remember about 15 years ago I was living out west, and up and decided I wanted to come home for Christmas that year.

I don’t like to fly — but at the time I didn’t have a car, either.

And while I was well accustomed to walking the streets of Albuquerque, N.M. for work and school — it was approximately 1,600 miles from the city to my parents’ hometown in Virginia.

I was a waiter at a pizza joint at the time, and one of the waitresses was planning on driving to Pennsylvania for Christmas.

I asked on what route they were planning to travel — and learned she and her boyfriend would go right by my folks’ exit in Bristol.

So I asked for a ride, offering to pay my share of gas and to help drive. The gas was easy — it was pretty cheap then. The lowest I paid on that trip was 77 cents a gallon just west of Knoxville, Tenn.

Anyway, the ride to Virginia was pretty uneventful — the only real drawback was it was a two-seater truck with a camper shell over the bed. The third person had to sit in the camper shell area.

It was getting home that became a challenge.

We got hit with a snowstorm that dumped several inches in Virginia — and crippled the interstates between Pennsylvania and my parents’ house.

So my ride was stuck up north while I was at home down south.

A few days later, the couple was actually able to make it to Virginia so we could begin our cross-country trek back to New Mexico.

When they arrived, I was in shock.

The temperature that day was in the low 20s, and the wind made it feel near zero.

Knowing at several points en route to Albuquerque I’d be riding in a heatless camper shell, I was dressed in three layers of pants, three sets of socks, four shirts, a jacket, a coat, heavy boots, two sets of gloves and a hat.

This couple arrived at the house in short-sleeved shirts and thin, cheap leather coats.

One of them was sick with a cold — the other was well on her way.

It was a rough ride home, but one thing that made it pleasant, for me — was dressing myself accordingly.

This pair of twits — born in a state which faces harsh winters annually — spent the entire trip home sick, miserable and cold.

I spent it looking forward to peace and quiet in the camper shell.

I must have been quite a sight driving through Texas and Oklahoma in the back of that truck. It was single-digit temperatures outside — meanwhile I was in that camper shell just having a good old time.

I had a CD player going back there, and I had a couple beers.

Look it’s a pain to layer-up during the winter months.

But imagine yourself dressed like it’s summer and your car breaks down in a snowstorm.

How long would it be before you simply froze to death?

John Ross is a staff writer for the Times-Tribune. He can be reached at

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