[Note : Thanks to Sita Adhikari for the video, this is what it looked like, but the hailstones in Wellington were a bit smaller. ]
IN HINDSIGHT, I should’ve probably followed my gut feel after holding a wet finger up and smelling the air. I very rarely leave early for work, but the radio said that there would be a short spell of bad weather in the afternoon, sandwiched by good weather the rest of the day. Unfortunately Facebook games intervened, and I left as usual around 45 minutes before my shift would start at 3.00 pm.
What followed was like walking into a sucker punch turning into a blind corner. One of the more brutal, coldest and windiest hailstorms pummeled me halfway to work. Making it worse was the fact that I was on a pushbike, pedalling like it was a summer day.
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And my bike ride DID start like a summer day, cuz the sun was out, so bright in fact that I even had shades on and only a light sweater on, laughing at all those motorists who had to buy petrol to get to wherever they were going. Sure I had cold hands and it was hard biking up those bridges and overpasses, but the task at hand for the moment was to focus and get to work on human leg power.
Somewhere halfway to my workplace something abruptly went wrong, as the clouds started moving so fast it reminded me of those scary movies where since the scary parts only happen at night, daytime goes by in fast motion, and the wind started to chill every exposed part of my face. Having been biking to work a handful of years, this didn’t faze me too much, but the next thing did.
It was starting to rain, but the raindrops were starting to pinch my face and nick my nose, almost like the drops were trying to squeeze (in fast time) oil out of my blackheads. NOW I was starting to worry. Against my better judgment I slowed down to check around me despite the fact that every second I was away from shelter was going to be crucial, and sure enough rain was falling down on the asphalt, except that I could see the rain, and it was in the form of white peas and grains. The road remained dry, but was turning white fast. And my face was hurting.
When I got to Port Road, supposed to be only a few minutes away from work in normal time, I might as well have been an hour away as the wind and hail was pushing me back. My helmet was torn away from my head, I was completely drenched (the hailstones were melting of course), and the brutal wind chill factor had pulled the temperature down a few degrees, which was already in single digits to begin with.
It was at this point that I realized that for the first time in a long time, I would not get to work on time.
With the wind, hail and abnormal cold (even for winter) pushing me back, I walked around 100 meters in around 10 minutes, every step a challenge. I saw that even the cars passing me by were having a hard time, and I wondered if there was anyone as stupid as me out in this ungodly weather. There was none. I had begun to fear being blown out to the nearby sea, and considered seeking shelter. There was none.
It was at this point I realized that I didn’t care about being on time anymore, and just wanted to get to work at a reasonable time.
My face and hands were numb, so numb that I couldn’t even use my phone. Thankfully, the hailstones and wind had gone down a bit so it was OK to bike, but it was still very cold. I was bundled up, but inside was drenched. In my six years in Wellington I had experienced bitter cold, even snow and torrential rain, but never winds and hail. And certainly not at the same time.
It was at this point that I realized that I didn’t care about getting to work anymore, and just wanted to survive.
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When I finally got to the factory, after what seemed an eternity (actually around 20 minutes only) my workmates couldn’t believe that I had ridden through that kind of weather. The superflash bundy clock that required my fingerprint (at presumably body temperature) wasn’t accepting my finger, because the latter was icy cold, as was the rest of my body. An electrician on top of the silos had to come down because it was too dangerous, and wheat containers from the port were most likely to stop coming as the port was closed down temporarily. It was THAT kind of a day, so unruly that even urgent work had to be halted.
My bisor told me that if this incident still wasn’t going to stop me from biking to work in inclement weather, nothing would.
I said that we would have to wait and see. 🙂 After all, I DID go through the worst, and was still ready for work, after a hot cup of kapeng barako.
Thanks for reading!