|I Like it Hot
summer I graduated from high school, I got a job with the highway
department. For the most part, the job was a breeze. We rode
around in a crew truck, drove a few stobs in the ground, took
some measurements, and then looked for a shady place to take
Humor has always been a friend to me, and all the crew enjoyed my company
because I could be so amusing. However, one day I made the unfortunate
mistake of angering our crew chief by making fun of his bald spot. The
rest of the crew glanced at the boss nervously and scooted away from me
as if I were wearing dynamite under my shirt. Apparently he was VERY touchy
about failing follicles. Who knew?
I didn’t, but I learned. The thin-man immediately began seeking a “special
assignment” for me. He didn’t have to look long because a member
of the asphalt inspection crew had called in drunk and my crew chief volunteered
me to stand in until the guy sobered up. It was the third week of August
1968 and ninety-seven degrees in the shade. Back then I don’t think
they made thermometers that could measure how hot it was out there on that
Contractors were resurfacing sections of Arkadelphia Road, and someone
from the highway department had to check the surface of that boiling black
inferno to ensure that it was level and smooth.
Normally surface inspectors rotate daily among crew members, but due to
my glib and unflattering jab regarding the hair loss of my beloved boss,
I feared my tour would be longer.
On the first day, I realized the error of my ways. All the other guys on
the crew were red as a rug burn and they were thrilled that they were off
the inspector’s “hot seat”. I feared the soles of my
boots were going to burst into flames at any moment.
I am probably not the sharpest tool in the elevator, but around noon on
the second day it dawned on me, that my “follicly sensitive” boss
might just leave me on the asphalt until I baked like a pound cake.
When I got back to the work center on the third day (eight pounds lighter),
I caught up with him before he left for the evening. I apologized profusely,
promised to wash his car, rotate his tires, and change his oil. Only when
I promised to bring him some of my mama's blackberry cobbler, did he say, "Let’s
talk on Friday."
I survived that week with most of my skin, but I never joked about hair
again. In fact, from that day forward, I was mindful of everything I said
to Mr. ‘I'll-throw-your-butt-in-a-vat-of-scalding-tar."
I survived that summer and in spite of my near death by fire, I still like
The thing about the climate in Alabama is this: folks from up north visit
here in fall and think "Hey - this weather is fabulous!!!!" They
go back to Michigan, sell their houses and move to Alabama. They can swim
until October and they are sooo happy…until late July and August.
After a week or two of the mercury blowing the top off the thermometer
and the humidity hovering around 96%, they become disillusioned. All of
a sudden, when they get third degree burns on their hands when they grab
the door handle of their vehicles. They snap and accost you in the Wal-Mart
parking lot screaming "HOW CAN YOU REDNECKS LIVE IN THIS HILLBILLY-HADES!!!!!
YOU MUST ALL BE THE SPAWN OF SATAN!!! I CAN’T LIVE IN THIS FURNACE!!!"
I always smile and say to myself, "You should have lived here before
we had air conditioning."