A week or so ago, during a cold snap, I was driving home and had to stop for gas and I picked a handy Domo station. For those of you unfamiliar with Domo stations, they consist of a tiny glass cube about the size of 6 phone booths that contains the cash register, the obligatory smokes and gum, and enough room for you and the attendant to transact your business without your tush sticking out in the cold. The cube sits on a concrete island, usually in the parking lot of some other business. On either side of the island is a single gas pump and in between them sits the object of this conversation, a cooler full of pop bottles.
When some people are struck by new questions they’ve never thought of before, wonderful things result. Electricity. Computers. Music. Social justice. When I get struck by new questions, they’re generally along the line of, “Why doesn’t the pop in those bottles freeze? It’s -30C out there, for crying out loud.” The coolers are your standard-issue commercial fridges with one large glass door, allowing you to reach in and pull out the fizzy sugar-water of your choice. Nothing special, yet the pop remains liquid. Seemed pretty strange to me.
Fast forward to my Tuesday meeting with my team out in Ontario. I try to drop some humorous note into the conference call and I mentioned my curiosity about the un-frozen outdoor soft drinks. It just so happens that one member of that team is married to a beverage distributor so she asked him. The answer surprised me. In the eastern and western provinces the weather is mild enough that the combination of the light bulb and insulation is sufficient to keep the beverages from freezing, but this is not good enough for Manitoba and the prairies. In our lovely environment the coolers are actually equipped to both cool and heat the product as necessary.
So there you have it. Not only is Manitoba so flat that you can watch your dog run away for three days it’s also so damn cold that the cold beverage vending machines have heaters in them. That’s a definition of cold that I never knew existed.