The coldest I've ever been happened while I was working in Minneapolis, a frigid hell hole from December through February. I foolishly visited during the first week of January 2010.
I arrived on a Friday morning, checked into my downtown hotel and saw my first massage client within an hour. He was a friendly, tall, muscular, handy-worthy, corn-fed type with broad shoulders and a handsome face with rosy cheeks, surely brought on by the icy temperatures outside. He and the three massages I did after him peeled three layers before hopping on my table. After the fourth I decided to take a break and grab dinner.
Forty-five minutes into my break I received a text from a potential client asking me to do an outcall in the downtown area. I was reluctant to venture outside, but the gentleman told me I could easily take the skyway, a gerbil cage-like collection of tubes protecting downtown Minneapolis folk from severe cold. Having never had much of a sense of direction I hesitated then eventually agreed. I quickly made it back to my room, gathered my table along with a map of the Skyway then made my way to the second floor to enter the walkway that connects sixty-nine city blocks.
His building was about five blocks from mine. The way I understood the map was that I would walk through the first tube, turn right at the next building then enter the first tube I came to. With the exception of two other buildings, including the second to last, this was the pattern I would follow all the way. The way I figured it I should have been there in no more than fifteen minutes. Thirty minutes later and two blocks in the wrong direction, the map was torn in half, my arms were killing me from carrying the table and I was asking anyone who would look my way for help. Eventually, with the help of a kind off-duty nurse who pretty much walked me all the way there I made it.
After I finished the massage I sat at the edge of a walkway looking into it then down at the war torn map. I realized from the map that it was almost a straight walk down one street then over two then straight another block to my hotel. That was when I made the decision to walk outside thinking it would be faster and less troublesome.
I was wearing a thick-ish wool coat with an upturned fake fur collar, a long sleeve shirt, jeans, Converse high tops and the lowest possible thread count of socks an asshole could buy. After one block outside my face was frozen beyond movement, my vision was blurred with frozen tears and I felt as though I no longer had toes, but two toeless blocks of ice to hobble on. My fingers were in so much fiery pain from the arctic temperature that when the wind blew, cutting through me, I dropped the table and shoved both of my hands down the front of my pants seeking warmth. The people in the tube were staring and a woman drove by, shooting me a look that meant I was either a pervert or a fool.
Out of fear of never being able to massage again, I made my way to the closest building to call a cab and learned from the concierge that Minneapolis was experiencing 37 below F with the wind chill. I returned to my hotel and stayed indoors until I left for the airport. I spent those days getting the blood back to my fingers through massage. When asked by patrons at the hotel bar what I'd been doing I'd say, "Oh, nothing. Just working my way around those tubes."