UPS veteran Floyd Coley is perfectly comfortable wearing shorts year-round in Minnesota.
Recent subzero temps did give Coley pause. “I don’t own a pair of UPS pants,” he told me. “I was looking for some the day it was 27 below, and then I remembered I had returned them all.” So Coley wore shorts.
He even shovels snow in shorts. A video of him doing that was recently recorded by his wife, Maria Olson, at the request of his disbelieving sister, Yolette.
Shorts are practically de rigueur in his native Jamaica, but Minnesota is not that warm a place sometimes.
The curious sight of people walking around in shorts when there is snow on the ground has perplexed me for years. WCCO-TV’s recent clip of a college kid, who would not give his name because his attire would have angered his mom, reminded me that I’ve been collecting video of people wearing shorts in winter for two years.
My original subject for an interview about cold-weather shorts disappeared, so I asked a random FedEx guy, Gordy, if he had any colleagues who wore shorts in winter. Gordy said he knew a guy named Floyd, and within hours I was arranging an interview with Coley. Thank you, Gordy!
While I would never expose my legs to windchill, there was a time when I played tennis outside with a group of pals until the temperature dipped below 32 degrees or there was snow on the court — whichever came first. A couple of layers of long-sleeve T-shirts and we were perfectly warm. But Coley puts us to shame.
Q: I really want to understand shorts as attire in the dead of winter.
A: It’s just something that keeps me happy. I’m comfortable. I work a lot, and I’m constantly moving and build up way too much heat. I hold heat well. I know I do because I’m outside, and a lot of times when I’m outside, I need to be outside. It allows me to stay cool.
Q: Thank you for reminding me of the heat. (I gave Floyd a thermometer I picked up at Target and an alcohol wipe, bought and brought just for him.)
A: What would make you do that?
Q: Normal temperature for humans is 98.6. I’m curious, are you warmer than most people?
A: It’s says I’m a little cooler — 97.1
Q: Are you a native Minnesotan?
A: No, I was born in Jamaica, grew up in the Virgin Islands.
Q: Wow. I got married in Jamaica, divorced in the United States. Shorts in Jamaica and the Virgin Islands make sense, but when there is snow outside. …
A: You are correct. I can’t argue with that.
Q: What do people say when they see you for the first time?
A: Most people think I’m crazy. “Ah, excuse me, sir, put some pants on.” I hear that a lot, at least once a day.
Q: How long have you been wearing shorts to work?
A: About five years. It took me a while to get here, but now that I’m here, I’ll never not wear shorts.
Q: Is there any place to which you don’t wear shorts?
A: No. I wear shorts everywhere, even to church.
Q: Do you own pants?
A: I own probably three pairs of jeans. I have khaki pants, but I would rather wear shorts.
Q: How many pairs of shorts do you have?
A: Ohhhh, 20, probably, at least.
Q: Have you had frostbite?
A: No, thank goodness.
Q: (Coley’s job description is as an “air walker,” UPS jargon for the people who pick up and deliver packages.) What is something un-shorts-related that would be helpful for the public to know when it comes to assisting UPSers?
A: Please, when you’re mailing your packages, put whom they are going to and their [office] suite number. That is very helpful. You’d be surprised how many times I have a package in my hand and all it says is: “Joe Anderson.” No suite number, no company name. Makes my job a lot more difficult.
Q: Is the driving of Minnesotans getting worse, based on the catbird seat from where you get to watch motorists?
A: I’d say yes.
Q: What’s our main problem?
A: Half of us speed too much, and the other half drive too slow. I guess it’s the speeders who bug me most.
C.J. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and seen on Fox 9’s “Buzz.” E-mailers, please state a subject; “Hello” does not count.