My Neighbor: A Clinic In Weather-Unawareness

I’m concerned about my neighbor.

This is something I’ve thought many times in life. I’ve had several neighbors that worried me, from the emo kids that thought Wednesday night was an appropriate night to party and listen to terrible dubstep music until all hours to the neighbor who had screaming matches with his other neighbor. All of these neighbors seemed mentally unwell at times, one constantly screaming “WOOHOO!”, the other screaming about calling the cops on kids and doing so in a very angry tone.

Across the sidewalk out front of my building, on the third floor lives a neighbor who worries me far more than I would have thought imaginable. He is always there on his balcony, smoking and talking on his phone.

I do mean always.

A few weeks ago, a nasty storm rolled in. It was pouring sheets of rain and lightning filled the sky. I turned on the TV just in time to hear the phrase “tornado warning” followed by the initial blast of the sirens nearby. They were loud and very obnoxious. In fact, only one thing could drown them out. That was a loud crash outside, possibly a tree falling. I looked out the window, but saw nothing. Then, carefully, I stuck my head out the door.

There was my neighbor on his third floor balcony, smoking as the tornado sirens alerted us that there was a very strong chance we would all be blown away. He seemed completely unaware that the sirens existed specifically to tell people NOT to stand on third floor balconies.

Being from the Midwest, this did not seem that unusual. Sure, I wouldn’t choose to do it, but I have known people who went and stood out in parking lots or climbed up on their roofs to get a good view of a possible twister. In the south, I didn’t figure this was very likely, but I continued on, only slightly fazed.

For those who haven’t gone outside, today is the coldest day in the history of anything past or future. In Montana, the meteorologists were saying the wind chill could reach -60 degrees. It was so cold throughout the country that the map on The Weather Channel website had a portion of the country labeled “frigid”. Here in Tennessee it was slightly better. We still, though, spent most of the morning with a wind chill of -10.

I got up today and dressed warmly. I went out to my 1992 Ford Explorer and allowed it the hour and a half to warm up that it requires. I drove to work, my mighty steed shivering its way up each hill. This isn’t personification: It was actually so cold my car was really shivering. I’m pretty sure that I heard it whisper, “Just kill me now…” as I reached my office.

Throughout the day, it did not get warmer. I began my same routine, hopping back in the car, listening to it whine and complain all the way home. I arrived and got out, shivering at the blast of cold wind. Then, as I was walking in, I glance towards the building.

There is the neighbor on the balcony, phone to his ear. He had no coat on and seemed completely unaware that we had just drifted into the second ice age.

I’m fairly certain that if it started raining hellfire and the apocalypse began, my neighbor would keep standing there even as a pit to hell enveloped his building. A demon would swallow him, the whole time he would be chatting on his phone and smoking away.

I don’t know if there is a support group for the weather-unaware, but if anyone out there knows of one, please get in touch with my neighbor. It’s just a matter of time until he gets hypothermia.

Maybe someone should just explain that phones do not require nicotine and the outdoors to work…

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