I’ve never been a fan of winter. When I was a kid, winter was the time you had to go to school. If you weren’t at school, you were indoors. I was a kid back in the dial-up internet days, so I couldn’t just spend hours plugged into Facebook or streaming Netflix. I had to do boring things, like watch scheduled television or chores.
As I got older and my personal pursuit of happiness became more linked to other people and open roads, winter got even harder. It made everyday pleasures like driving around listening to audiobooks into an insane risk of physical, emotional, and financial harm.
But, it lost its counterbalance of summer. Work is year round. And, high speed internet changed the way I looked at most of what I did in life. By the time my World of Warcraft addiction was in full blossom, I didn’t even notice what the weather was like for any longer than my daily commute.
Still, things never change. I hated winter when I was young and I hate winter now. I can just be a little more definitive in my reasons.
Top 9 things I hate about winter
9. Darkness… utter darkness…
Back in Kansas City, a winter day was about 9.5 hours of daylight, compared to 14-15 hours in the summer. Six hours of difference is a lot, but I don’t think I noticed it as much as I do now.
Here in Montana, a winter day can have as little as eight hours of daylight, usually while I am tucked in an office building, unable to enjoy it. In the summer, days stretch for an enternity, lasting as long as 16 hours.
So, in the summer, you get used to light outside the windown when you go to sleep and light popping up before you do in the morning.
In the winter, you’re lucky to see the sun at all.
Back when I was working in the massive cave complex hidden beneath Springfield, MO, I realized sunlight exposure is important. I told myself I would avoid getting into a situation where I ever had to go without daylight again.
I wasn’t expecting the radical shift here in Montana.
That much darkness freaks me out. Not because I’m afraid of the dark. I enjoy a good night under the stars in the dead of summer. But, because I know if I go too long without getting cancer-waves on my face, I will fall into a pit of depression.
It’s no wonder people suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder.
8. Hat hair
Somewhere along the last few years, my growing forhead decided it wasn’t doing enough and bribed the rest of my scalp to go on hair-production strike. My hair has thinned out ever since.
I’m not bald, yet, though. I still have a mop on my head. Now, it’s just thin enough it doesn’t protect me from the elements.
So, I wear a big, thick hat.
This is fine when I’ve had my locks cropped down against my dome. But, besides being thin and whispy, my hair is also chaotic. It will take any excuse to run in whatever direction it can.
So, I end up having to re-comb my hair everytime I go outside or suffer the consequences of being that guy in the office. You know, the one you’re certain will snap one day and insist everyone calls him “Lord Garglavain.”
And my coworkers already have enough reasons to think I’m a madman.
I know people who seem to think snow is pretty. And, I guess I can agree for the first day. Once people, dogs, deer, and other dirty animals track crap all over it, it needs to go away.
Snow just makes everything harder. Shovel it. Sweep it off your car and scrape your windows. Walk across the world like you’re a football player practicing your high knees drills.
It sucks and if I had a way to murder it without destroying the entire ecosystem of the planet, I would.
My first two years out here in Montana, I got lucky. Snow was rare and when it came down, it was light and dry. I almost forgot how much I hated it or that I once took off and drove south for 19 hours just to avoid one small blizzard.
This year has punished me for letting my guard down.
Everything in this town is covered in snow. A fact only made worse by the lack of giant trucks to push it off the road and drop actual salt behind them. Instead, the Montana snow solution is to just keep it under five inches on the road and let cars smash it down into a thick, rock-like substance I’m not yet willing to call ice.
It sits there, clinging to everything. And if you even think about going near it, you get covered in it, too. It seeps into you. It stains you…
6. Snow residue stains on my shoes
…and it stains my shoes.
I wear black leather shoes because I’m an adult and I people frown on you for wearing Chuck Taylors with a tie. I like my dark colors. They’re slimming and part of me still wants to go back to high school and join a coven.
Normally, this ins’t a problem. For anyone. Black shoes are easy to match to any outfit. They’re easier to keep clean. They look nice.
Unless they’re covered in a strange, white powdery residue.
It seems if I even think about going outside, my shoes get stained with snow-based water stains. I even tried treating them this year with that stinky crap you rub into leather.
It didnt’ help.
And let me tell you, weird white stains on your shoes might not seem like a problem until you try to fly somewhere. Then it is suddenly and literally a matter of national security for everyone to examine your lack of shoe hygeine.
This doesn’t happen in the summer.
5. Parking lots
Aside from staying tucked in my bed and glaring at winter through the window, I don’t know how to avoid getting snow and other crap all over my shoes.
Like I said above, Montana doesn’t do the “plow and salt” thing that allows Kansas City to function as a society. They sort of scrape the top layer off of everything. This includes parking lots and sidewalks.
Like the ones I have to transverse every morning on my way to work.
Now, I’ve got good balance and years of practicing to bring my poor sword skills up to the level of mediocre taught me how to walk on all kinds of terrain. But, even I slip a little as I stalk the smooth sheet of death that is my work parking lot. It’s no coincidence that falling down is our leading cause of worker’s compensation claims.
And worse than just being forced to do my penguin waddle across a frozen wasteland is the parking itself.
People don’t seem capable of parking correctly when the lot is covered in snow. They spread out way too far and end up taking up too much room or park so close to you its impossible to get your car door open.
I blame kindergarten. If our kindergarten teachers hadn’t insisted we color inside the lines, modern adults would have a better sense of spacial reasoning.
Just because the lines are buried doesn’t mean they aren’t there.
4. Frozen… bits…
Maybe I’m just cranky because I’ve been sitting inside my warm apartment for three hours now and my toes and other bits still feel like they’re lost in the depths of space.
One benefit of being a fat guy is tolerance to cold. I’m not supposed to get cold. Hot, sure, but not cold.
Winter doesn’t seem to want to give me even that small advantage anymore.
Maybe I’m just getting old. It’s the joints, you see. My knees, wrists, fingers, toes, and ankles all feel like they could use another squirt from the oil can. The colder it gets, the stiffer I become.
I’m afraid that this might not be winter related, but I will continue to live in denial as long as I can.
3. Everything smells like fire
I don’t like the smell of fire. I don’t neccessarily mean the smell of smoke, either. See, there are different types of smoke. The smoke from a campfire doesn’t bother me, for example.
I’m talking about a particular smell. It’s part plastic and part karosene with just a whiff of charred wood.
There are two things in the world with that smell. The first is your home, after a fire has gutted it and there isn’t much left to do by start trying to pick up the pieces of the life you had a few hours before.
The other is the shitty corn pellets everyone around here seems to burn in their furnace.
Since my house fire in 2009, I’ve had problems with the smell. Just the subtle hint of it can trigger a mild anxiety attack. It sends me searching around me to find the source of the fire and the closest fire extinguisher.
Thanks to the corn pellets, I can rarely go outside without my heartrate spiking and every muscle in my body tensing.
It makes for several very long months.
2. Car exhaust everywhere
There is one smell much more prevelant: car exhaust.
Despite experts advising the exact opposite, almost everyone leaves their car running for long periods of time every morning.
And I get it. When it’s -15°F outside, you want to spend as much time in your warm house as possible while your seatwarmer engages and your heater finanlly clicks over from Iceman to Pyro.
But, all that exhaust is just choking the world.
So, stop it. My convenience, health, and mood are all more important than your butt temperature.
Not that I will convince you of that.
1. Car stalactites
You’ve seen them. The build up of black gunk and ice that clings to the inside and back of your wheel well. Those deadly, dangerous chunks of street grime and what I can only assume is raw evil from the deepest pit of hell.
Those are the worst thing about winter.
The rest of the things on this list could crop up anytime of year. But these hate-cicles are a winter issue.
Sure, they might seem innocent enough. Just like all the other clinging snow and ice, they are what they are. But, in reality, these things turn every car on the road into a ticking time bomb.
Maybe I’m a defeatist, but these things keep growing all winter long and that can’t be good for your tires. Sooner or later, they’re going to just rip the wheels right off your car while you’re driving down the road.
I hope I’m not right behind you when it happens.
“But, Matt,” you say, despite this being a blog and therefor impossible for me to hear you. “What if I knock them off my car regularly?”
“Well, hypothetical reader with strange internet content consumption dialogue habits,” I’d reply. “That just means you’re leaving a what is basically a giant death rock in the road or parking lot lined up where someone’s tires will be. You big jerkface.”
See? The cold leaves me cranky.
We all know the only safe way to elminate the scum-ice is to wash it from you car with a power washer. Not a good idea when the high is only 11°F.
This is my definition of a Kobayashi Maru.
I don’t want you to mistake my hatred for winter as an endorsement of any other season. There are plenty of things to nit-pick about every season. You can look forward to my Top 9 things I hate about spring coming in a couple months.
In the meantime, let me know what horrible things about winter I missed from the list. I’d be happy to hear your thoughts on why it all suks.