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Jan 8, 2014

Remember when your Nana told you “Don’t go outside without a jacket on, you’ll catch your death?”

Well, I’m here to tell you Nana was right.

Winter Storm Hercules was followed by the coldest arctic outbreak in the Midwest/Eastern areas since the 1990s thanks to an unusually potent Polar Vortex this year. It is currently a balmy 4 degrees Fahrenheit outside of our office in New York, with wind chills that put us in the -13 F range. It doesn’t let up all the way to the Great Lakes, where Michigan is reporting other-worldly temperatures of -30 F.

It’s REALLY cold working outside this week

Listen to Nana. Wear a jacket.

Suffice to say, it’s cold outside — very, very, very cold. It was all anyone could talk about on the radio on my way to work.

Same as every morning, I was listening to my old pal Paul “Cubby” Bryant on WKTU-NY. He brought up an interesting topic: what would be the toughest job to have on a day like today?

Certainly not mine, since I was ruminating about this while sitting in my cozy heated car during my morning commute. But there are some people who see a day like today as any other work day, and must brave the elements.

There are the usual tough tasks associated with police, fire, and emergency services, but many other professions go unsung for the demands that cold weather puts on them. When I think of the 5 Toughest Jobs to have on a day like today.

Toughest jobs to have in the cold

This is what comes to mind (in no particular order):

  • Energy workers — If you are working at an energy plant or as a field technician for an energy company on the East Coast, chances are you will be outside for most of the day, and if you are lucky you will be climbing utility poles, venting towers, or storage tanks into the searing wind to complete your tasks.
  • Airline workers & baggage handlers — Baggage Handlers work outside on the tarmac all day and have no choice but to brave the elements. While they are handling that, the airline workers are charged with the unenviable task of keeping a professional attitude in the midst of several flight cancellations and delays.
  • Construction workers — While construction work sites do occasionally close for inclement weather, you’d be surprised at how much they’re willing to put up with before it happens. In New York City alone there are thousands of construction workers climbing ice-cold scaffoldings today to ensure the march of progress continues unimpeded.
  • Package & mail carriers — We all know that mail and parcels must be delivered six days a week no matter the weather outside, which is why countless package and mail carriers won’t let the cold stop them today or any other day. Some online retailers are even experimenting with Sunday delivery, so getting packages delivered is officially a 24/7 job now.
  • Snow plow operators — Plow operators have the worst of the cold weather blues: when the weather gets worse, they are usually called upon more and more, and entire communities depend on them to keep the roads clear and commerce moving. Interstate plow operators may find themselves working long stretches of hostile roads until the job is done.

On a day like today when it’s colder in New York and Chicago than it is in Antarctica, nobody should be out in the elements, but some people must be because their job demands it. These are just five examples; there are countless others who deserve recognition for having tough weather-agnostic jobs.

Do you have to brave the weather today for your job? What are your five picks for the toughest cold weather jobs?

This was originally published on the Michael C. Fina blog.

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