Nathan's Laserium: Working Outside in Winter

I wrote this quite a few years ago, there’s no timestamp so I can’t be sure exactly when. Guessing 2008. Consider it a complement to the recently released and readily available anthology about winter in Alberta, 40 Below Volume 2! Which you can get at any fine bookstores and online at



Working Outside in Winter

the cold caught me flat-footed

or rather, cold-footed without proper footwear

last year’s balmy winter

and all that talk about global warming

had me convinced I wouldn’t need winter boots

now I’m halfway through my 12-hour shift

frozen-toed and cursing my permafrost brain

for ever taking the weather for granted in the Rockies

this is so not cool I say to my bundled-up coworker

and buddy replies no, but it is pretty damn cold

his cheery smile seems frozen on his face

and I add another item to my list of things I hate today

winter, work and wiseguys

no need to check that list twice

I turn my attention to the task at hand:

guiding a massive machine, a modern-day mammoth

out of this pit and into that one

its top speed is about 1 mph

I’m pretty sure glaciers have more oomph

after a while the machine operator

snug in his cab like a hibernating grizzly

summons me up to see him

put these on he yells with affected iciness

pointing at his superfluous winter boots

gratefully I accept this gift

from an unexpected Santa

I go back out into the cold and think

winter’s not so bad after all

I’ve had worse jobs

and at least it’s not nightshift

- Nathan Waddell