It was freezing outside, literally. It was nothing new. We waited for the bus in below zero temperatures before. Well, sometimes we waited in the house and then ran to the heated bus. This day was around 30 degrees below.
It was always freezing in the morning on a wintry day in Minnesota. It’s the wind chill that will kill you. Many days just like this one were reported at 60 degrees below when factoring in the wind. It was not a good day for our bus to drop us off early.
Standing outside waiting for the school doors to be unlocked, I had quit shivering. I had gone numb, all over. It was not a joking matter. My right hand held my baritone mouthpiece. I kept thinking we would be let inside before too much longer. My pockets were too tight to slide it into and I didn’t want to bare my skin to the cold long enough to fiddle with my coat pocket zippers. I tried to sneak my hands farther up in my coat, to no avail.
When I got inside, my skin was stinging around my nose but I couldn’t feel my hands. I tried to let go of my mouthpiece. I couldn’t open my hand. I rose my hand in the air to get the teacher’s attention.
“Yes, Chad, you have a question?”
“Teacher I can’t feel my hand.”
She busied herself with some papers at her desk. “Put your mouthpiece down.”
“I can’t!” Fear turned into a tear or two that froze on my reddened cheek.
“What do you mean.” The teacher hurried over and tried to pry my fingers from the mouthpiece which only teared at my skin. It hurt. A good sign, I guess.
I was sent to the Nurse’s office. I don’t remember how we removed the mouthpiece, short of warming up my hand until it came loose. It wasn’t a good enough reason to go home. Minnesota doesn’t use many snow day excuses.