GREENFIELD — Shane Bundy makes quick work of filling up customers’ gas tanks at Swifty in Greenfield.
He dashes to and from the service station hub in the 1300 block of North State Street, taking orders and making change. The work is fast-paced, and on most days, the hours fly by.
Tuesday was not most days.
As Bundy ran from the hub to greet a customer Tuesday afternoon, the thermostat was hovering just above zero. He shoved his hands in his pockets after the transaction, which he had just completed without gloves.
“I can’t handle the money with gloves on,” he said. “The wind just wants to take it away.”
Instead, Bundy stuffs his pockets with hand-warming packets to fight off the cold.
“They help out a lot,” he said, hands jammed tightly inside.
While many county residents stayed in early this week, waiting out the worst of the winter storm, others braved the bitter chill to perform jobs that make life easier for the rest of us.
The county all but shut down Sunday and Monday as street crews worked to clear the roads, but convenience stores, grocery stores, pharmacies and a variety of other agencies kept their doors open nonetheless, even if it was just to provide service to a few stragglers here and there.
Swifty, for example, pumped just 200 gallons for customers on Monday. On a normal day, the service station pumps up to 8,000 gallons.
The perils of working outside on a day like Tuesday weren’t lost on Bundy.
“I think it’s very dangerous,” he said.
Many employees who ventured out to their jobs this week, like those employed at Hancock Regional Hospital, say braving the elements comes with the territory. Patients can’t wait, and sickness certainly won’t.
It was quiet Tuesday afternoon in the HRH Andis Women’s and Children’s Unit, but even a low patient load requires staff.
On Monday, Barb Smith, a nurse, took on an extra shift because she happened to be one employee whose four-wheel drive truck was unlikely to get stuck in the snow.
“I just drove like 25, 30 miles an hour,” she said. “I just took it slow, tried to be safe.”
She made the drive from rural Greenfield to the hospital without any problems.
“Barb saved the day, coming in,” said team leader Theresa Lueder. “It’s amazing how people can be so far away and be so dedicated to making it in.”
At the hospital, staff members who were scheduled to work before the storm packed their things and made plans to stay. That kept them safe and patients cared for, Lueder said.
“You have a sense of pride in your job,” she explained. “It’s a sense of camaraderie with your team.”
Dave Bush, owner of Medicap Pharmacy in Greenfield, said many of his customers planned ahead, filling their prescriptions before the storm.
But when the city closed down Monday, the pharmacy opened anyway, ready to serve anyone with a last-minute medication need. It was business as usual Tuesday as temperatures warmed slightly.
Bush prides himself on never having closed the store in 17 years for weather, and this week was no exception.
“It was a little challenging, but we made it in,” Bush said. “If people came in, I wanted them to be able to get their medication. That’s of the utmost importance.”