Was This a Senior Moment, or Just a Shivery One?


Owen said I had a senior moment. I’m old enough to qualify for one. But I think what happened was more due to environmental conditions.

I flew back alone from Florida last week, while Harriet stayed on, and I arrived in Albany on a dark, cold evening, with temperatures around twenty degrees and the winds gusting at twenty-five miles an hour, making the wind chill 2.6 degrees Fahrenheit (using the standard wind chill formula of 35.74 + 0.6215T – 35.75(V0.16) + 0.4275T(V0.16), in case you want to check my work).

Did I have a coat? Sure, but it was in the car, because I had packed extremely light for my trip. Three days before, when I had to park in the farthest of the airport’s long-term parking lots, I knew I’d have a chilly walk to the car when I got back—about one-third a mile from the terminal. No problem. I’ve done it before.

But damn was it cold enough to steal my breath that night. I walked as fast as I could to the outer parking lot, looking forward to warming up my vehicle and putting on my coat. I was shivering. I was in pain. I walked directly to the spot where I’d parked my car—and it wasn’t there.

I was immediately taken aback. I’m not the kind of person who forgets where he parks the car. I always know where to go. Except my car wasn’t there, and I was freezing. I scanned the area. I walked up and down one of the rows. Oh, there it is. Weird that I don’t remember parking there. But as I got closer, it wasn’t my vehicle, just one that looked almost the same.

Suddenly I’m confused. And very, very cold. I try to think back—maybe I don’t remember where I parked the car. Maybe I parked it in the next lot over. I start heading in that direction, and as I’m walking I know full well I didn’t park my car in the next lot over. Yet there I am, hurrying up and down the rows in that lot. Of course I don’t find it. My face, my hands, my core—I’m trembling all over. I’m starting to have a trouble breathing. I’m about to make my way back to the terminal to warm up and regroup, but I think of calling Harriet, which I don’t want to do because that’s admitting I don’t know where I parked the car, but I do it.

She agreed we were in the far lot, but she didn’t pay attention to exactly where I parked. Then she asked if I’d been using the key fob as I walked around so I could spot the car lights when I unlocked it.

No. I hadn’t even thought of it, even though I’d done exactly that kind of thing enough times in the past. I hurried to the far lot again and started pressing my key fob as I marched up and down the aisles. Within a minute I found my car, not where I expected it. Another minute and my coat was on and the engine running.

It’s called hypothermia, and I realize I’m becoming prone to it. Maybe because I’m getting older, and that’s the senior moment. I was so cold I became confused and forgot where I parked. Forgot to use the key fob. Went searching in another lot even though I knew my car wasn’t there.

A similar thing happened to me last year on a winter bike ride. I got so cold I became mentally disoriented and thought there was something wrong with my bike because it seemed so hard to pedal and I wasn’t going very fast. I got off my bike and began examining it until I realized the problem was me, not the bike, and the only thing I could do was keep riding until I got back.

One thing I’m grateful for: Spring arrives next week.

By David Klein

David Klein

Published novelist, creative writer, journalist, avid reader, discriminating screen watcher.


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