When I first enlisted in the military out of Odessa, Texas, I thought I knew what cold was. The bitter, cold winds streaking through the area unopposed would bite to the bone, so hey, I knew “cold.”
Granted, then I started getting stationed at places in North Carolina and Virginia and running into those fun-filled blizzards where the snow piled up several feet. I had absolutely no idea how to drive in that, and it took quite a bit of tutelage from my battle buddies from northern states where that type of driving was common until I felt comfortable enough to drive on my own.
When I retired in Copperas Cove, the lack of snow and seriously cold weather was one of the deciding factors in where my wife and I would locate ourselves. As we get a little older, our joints strongly dislike anything resembling cold.
And then a nice Arctic cold front decided to come through on Monday night.
Panicked at the thought of possible ice and snow, schools throughout the region closed down for the day on Tuesday. Physical training was canceled on post (something almost unheard of) and all troops and Department of the Army civilians were given a delayed report time to account for the weather.
As it turns out, I didn’t see a single bit of precipitation in Copperas Cove when I left for work. A very slight snow was falling when I went through Killeen, but it was negligible.
What I did see was the lines stretching for miles to get onto post. As I was driving eastbound on Interstate 14, I couldn’t help but be glad I was retired and not trying to get to my unit by the 10 a.m. report time.
It’s been a long time since I drove in weather with possible ice on the roads, so I was driving a little below the speed limit — just in case. While I was still doing 65 miles per hour in a 75 zone, I noticed something else that tends to irk me to no end: All the drivers passing me by like I was standing still.
I mean, really? To all you folks from those northern states who laugh at us Texans when a little bit of cold hits, please remember one thing — most Central Texans have absolutely no idea how to drive in this weather.
A lot of native Texans never learned how to drive on ice and snow. Many retirees from other states haven’t driven in those conditions in a long time. While this may pose no problem to you, the lack of experience in the area poses a huge safety issue when you start zipping along like Speedy Gonzales. (That’s a Looney Toons cartoon character, for you youngsters.)
Slow down for us, if you don’t mind. It could save your life — and mine.
David A. BRYANT is an Army retiree and a military journalist for the Killeen Daily Herald. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 254-501-7554.