©Dave McGettigan 2013
I have only been this cold one time in my life. I enjoyed it then. I was standing on the top of a mountain surrounded by white. The sky was grey overhead and snow was falling fast but gently to the ground. My partner was a ski instructor, but being allergic to pain, and fearing the stereotypical broken leg, I refused to let him teach me to ski.
This time being so cold wasn’t a pleasant thing. Although again I was alone I wasn’t in a place where I could meditate among the nature on a winter’s day. I was working in a service station. One of my duties on the night shift was to go to the freezer to retrieve the pies to cook ready for all the hungry tradesman requiring breakfast on the way to work. The door to the freezer had closed, the lock activated and the fan started again to bring the temperature back down to minus 23.
If I intend to spend a long time in the freezer I use a heavy jacket and gloves provided as part of “PPE”. I did not intend to spend more than a few minutes collecting the pies. However the box split and pies rolled all over the floor. I bent to pick them up, slipped on some ice and came crashing down. My knee damaged and limited space prevented me from a hasty retreat from the freezer.
I sat on the freezer floor, my knee aching and my skin producing goose bumps and shivering in an attempt to keep warm. My eyes hurt and were filled with tears, and snot ran freely from my nose as I contemplated my fate.
Drivers picking up a pump and getting no response from the console would hang the nozzle up again and drive away. The locked door policy which the company had would prevent customers, suppliers or anyone else entering. Deliveries of newspapers and bread would be left at the door, and customers would help themselves, sometimes leaving the correct money for items taken. The deadman’s alarm activated after 15 minutes of no movement within the store. The alarm company would firstly try phoning the store for a response and if there is no response would phone the area manager.
Mostly when the alarm was triggered it was a false alarm. I was hoping that the usual complacency would be absent tonight and someone would come to my rescue.
I couldn’t feel my toes now. Maybe that’s a good thing because they are no longer hurting. I kept rubbing my hands together and rubbing my cheeks hoping to get blood circulating and get some warmth to those areas. To no avail though, my fingers, nose, ears and eyes were stinging. I was feeling weary. I must stay awake, I must.
The store manager, having been woken by the area manager, arrived along with the police. All was peaceful and calm. You would naturally expect the place to be deserted at 4am on a Friday morning. There was no sign of the staff member who was supposed to bring in the dollars for the company however. Using a special key the store manager was able to override the electronic door lock. He looked around the store and couldn’t see anything out of place. He opened the drawer to the register to find all money present and seemingly correct. He checked the safe and the cigarettes and finding everything in order, dismissed the police suggesting it was obviously just a case of a worker deserting his post. It wasn’t the first time someone had decided they just didn’t want to work anymore and left a position. The next calls were made to the area manager to relieve her mind and to another staff member to start work early.
There was no thought of pies or sausage rolls until the first hungry tradesman arrived just after 6am. When Ransme opened the freezer door to get the pies out she screamed. The store manager ran from his office to see what all the raucous was about. There on the floor of the freezer lay a very dead, very frozen Gary Bradfield.