Cuban Snowman

2 Feb

“When is it going to snow?” The janitor at work always asks, every day I see him. We call him Cubano, as he is a Cuban Refugee and we cannot pronounce his name…no matter how many times we ask him or others to repeat, the syllables turn to mush when we try to repeat. He recently moved to Colorado right before our winter season started, fresh out of Cuba, and never forgets to remind us that his family lives in Sunny Florida; he’s the only one in Colorado.
Our temperatures, often times, drop down into the negatives. Working nights, and when snow is included, this can be quite a daunting task. Only the brave succeed through a whole season.
“Thursday, Friday and Saturday,” I tell him. “We’re supposed to get six inches.” Normally, our snow always falls a few inches short of what’s expected, something Cubano has yet to fully conceive. Yet, just the word of snow had him bowing his head in defeat. He glanced up through his long eyelashes a me, mumbled a few phrases that I couldn’t make out through his heavy accent, and ended with “six inches?!, aye, aye, aye!”
We haven’t had our yearly blizzard yet, and just as the sun set today, the weather had dropped about fifteen degrees with a slight, brisk wind that made us question wearing our hats; something Cubano needed immediately, and I guessed from the fact that I didn’t see him throughout the the rest of my shift, he had barricaded himself into a warm building to take his time cleaning, anything to stay out of the-for me-almost chilly air.
I gave him his keys that he had signed for, his head still hung low. He was contemplating. I could tell that the thought of snow had hung heavy on his mind. I couldn’t blame him. I have never had the opportunity to live somewhere, in a climate colder than the one I am accustomed to, let alone away from family. Just thinking of being thousands of miles away from them makes a simple snowfall seem colder than it really is.
Cubano is skinny. Rail thin. No matter how much he eats, the weight doesn’t want to cling to him. I’d gladly give him an extra twenty pounds of mine to know he’d be just that much warmer. I can tell that though he has ample winter clothes for getting through, he still gets cold. Much colder than I could ever fathom. No matter how hard he works, especially when one can build up enough body heat while shoveling to keep up with an accumulating snowfall and end up sweating and praying for air conditioning, our dear Cubano would waste more energy trying to keep that heat than successfully using it to keep himself warm.

Tonight, during my lunch hour, I forewent my mean and ran to Hobby Lobby, picking up a few skeins of thick, fleecy yarn. Though my nana’s birthday is coming up and I still have quite a few granny squares to make for the blanket I plan on giving her, I can’t get his sodden face and slumped shoulders out of my mind. The onset of his tears broke my heart and I decided right then and there that I will, in the next three nights, work with all the power I can muster, with all the speed my fingers can give me, to make him a set of a scarf, hat and gloves to help keep him warm. I may not finish in time for this snow storm, but I am determined to hopefully let him know that no matter how cold it may get, he has the warmth of my friendship to help him through this.

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