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Erik Burgess, Published January 06 2014

Fargo man finds refuge from bitter cold in a freezer, where 'there's no wind chill'

FARGO - Folks who work every day in a refrigerated space usually have to grin and brrrrrr it.

But when it’s this cold outside, Kevin Stoick actually finds refuge in his freezer.

“The only plus about working in the freezer is there’s no wind chill,” he said with a big laugh.

Stoick, 57, is the frozen food and dairy manager at the Osgood Hornbacher’s in southwest Fargo, where he’s been employed since 2005.

The freezer in the back of the store was set to about minus 10 degrees Monday afternoon, but without wind, it was balmy compared to the blustery minus 40 wind chill outside, as reported by the National Weather Service.

Before moving to Fargo, Stoick worked at a grocery store in his hometown of Selby, S.D., where the freezer was outdoors so employees had to work in the elements to unload delivery trucks.

At Hornbacher’s, trucks back their cargo directly into Stoick’s stockroom, although the opening of garage doors does cause icy air to come “barreling in,” he said.

On Monday afternoon, a half-filled yellow mop bucket just feet from those garage doors was chunky with ice. Stoick wears a black Hornbacher’s jacket and green work gloves to keep warm. Earmuffs not required.

“Everybody says ‘Why’d you move to Fargo?’ I say, it wasn’t cold enough where I lived,” he joked.

Jokes aside, people who were working outside Monday were dealing with broken water mains, frozen fingers and stalled trucks, said Randy Affield, the streets, sanitation and fleet division manager for the city of Moorhead.

When it gets this cold, diesel fuel begins to freeze into a solid, Affield said.

“They call it a gelling process, because it actually turns into a Jell-O, and you can’t pump it,” he said.

Affield said he’d “most definitely” rather be stocking real Jell-O in a 30-degree cooler than working outside in the wind.

“It’s pathetically miserable outside,” he said.

Stoick said he doesn’t take a lot of heat from friends or family for working in a freezer in one of the coldest parts of the country. It’s something he’s done all his life.

Besides, he likes to remind people that during the sweltering hot Fargo summers, a little time in the cooler can actually be quite refreshing.

“I enjoy it,” Stoick said. “I guess if I didn’t like it, I wouldn’t do it.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Erik Burgess at (701) 241-5518