By Elaine Viets of the Femmes Fatales.
Everyone in my supermarket was shivering. We were bundled up in boots, scarves and heavy coats. All we could talk about at the deli counter was how cold it was.
"How are you?" asked the white-coated man behind the counter.
"Freezing," I said. He was slicing turkey breast for my dinner. "It's 55 degrees out."
He nodded. "The wind's brutal." He expertly wrapped the thick slices and said. "I'm not used to this in March."
Quit laughing. I'm in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. We're weather wimps. If you're one of the thousands in the Midwest and Northeast who got slammed by the March blizzard, you're not going to spare any sympathy for South Floridians. But dang, it's cold here. We don't have your character and fortitude. We've got lizard blood.
"At least it's not as bad as up north," I said piously.
The man behind the counter nodded and dished a hearty helping of mac and cheese into a container. "Now that's bad," he said. "Those poor people. Roofs collapsing, avalanches on the highway, roads closed, electricity off, winds blowing seventy miles an hour."
"Seventy! They were more than a hundred miles on Mount Washington, with gusts of 138."
We gave our fellow Americans a moment of silent sympathy.
Then he said, "I wonder which is worse – a hurricane or a blizzard?"
"I can answer that," I said. "I've been in both. A blizzard is far worse. Definitely. I was trapped in a blizzard for four days. FOUR DAYS! My husband and I were completely snowed in. Couldn't get down the steps. Couldn't get the car out of the garage, and if we did, we could be arrested for driving. Only emergency personnel were allowed on the streets. And cold? Our big old brick house was impossible to keep warm, and the electricity kept going on and off."
"Sounds terrible," he said, shaking his head and adding up my order.
"I've never been so cold. The wind was whistling through the windows and snow blew under the doors. The weather kept getting worse, day after day. We played Scrabble until we ran out of words. Next we ran out of chocolate. And then we ran out of booze."
His eyes widened. "No booze? That's dire."
"Now a hurricane is bad," I said. "But the last hurricane, we evacuated to a nice hotel inland before it hit. It had a terrific bar."
"So you had booze." He looked relieved.
"Lots. Good food, too. We were lucky and never lost power, so we had air-conditioning. We settled in and watched the storm on TV. Wrangling the two cats was a pain, but the only thing we ran out of was large bath towels."
"I don't think I could stand a storm without booze," he said, still horrified by my suffering during the blizzard. "You gotta drink through a hurricane."
"You know the best part about the hurricane?"
He shook his head.
"You don't have to shovel anything."
Which would you choose: a hurricane or a blizzard?
Stay safe and warm, readers. And happy St. Patrick's Day. Win SHOP TILL YOU DROP, the novel that started the Dead-End Job mysteries. Click Contests at www.elaineviets.com