Wednesday, August 13, 2008

cold toesies

I have a long list of reasons why it can be annoying to be a short geologist. My feet are in proportion to the rest of me (small) and one of the more concrete problems is appropriate footwear.

As a short, slightly-built person, I am fairly endothermic, and my extremities tend to be about the ambient temperature. When it's below freezing, my hands and feet get dangerously cold quickly. I generally worked in an area that had an actual winter; i.e. the temperature could be expected to remain below freezing for a significant portion of the time. The problem is that for the several years that I worked in consulting, I never found insulated steel-toe boots in anything approaching my size. And yes, they have to have steel toes and steel shanks.

I'm not picky. I only knew of one place within an hour's drive that sold womens' steel-toe boots, and they literally didn't have a single pair of lined and/or insulated boots. And stuffing your boots with chemical handwarmers like "hothands" don't work because they don't have enough oxygen to keep the reaction going. So the options available to me were:

1.Buy the smallest mens size available and wear 4 pairs of socks. This is awkward and it's dangerous to drive with such oversize shoes.
2. Wear mens-sized rubber boots over the steel-toe boots. These can be removed, although not easily, and you have the same problem with driving/walking.
3. Stand in the snow and slush until you get chilblains, then sprint to the nearest vehicle and spend 20 minutes with the heat on full blast until you can feel your feet again.
4. Say "screw it" and wear non-steel toe snowboots that are insulated with the justification that you're in much more danger of damaging your feet with the cold than stepping on a nail or dropping something heavy on your toes.
5. Variation on option 3: borrow the gigantic propane torch that the drillers are using to un-freeze the drill rods and pass it over your toes. Try not to set your pants on fire.

I have used options 2-5 at various times, but you can't beat option 3 for sheer misery. Maybe I should make acceptance of future employment conditional upon providing me with cold-weather appropriate steel-toe boots.


Silver Fox said...

I bought steel-toed pack boots online, I think from Baffin, but my boots aren't handy right now to actually check the brand. Men's boots usually don't go anywhere near my size, either.

Short Geologist said...

I've considered buying online - I may do so next time I need boots. I tend not to buy shoes online because my feet are not quite standard and a lot of shoes don't really fit.