It’s 84 °F in Delcambre (del-kum) Louisiana today, but not if you work in the freezer.
Every day for for the past fourteen years, Coty Broussard has bundled up in a padded snowsuit for his job at Bayou Shrimp Processors, where he spends his entire shift inside several freezers, some of them covered in ice. Bayou Shrimp processes some 100,000 pounds of fresh shrimp a day: cleaning, shelling, packing, and then freezing the seafood before it’s trucked out all across America. Part of Coty’s job involves stacking the “hot racks” (shelves of fresh-packed shrimp at 6°F ) into the blast freezer where the seafood is flash frozen to -20 °F.
“I like it,” he remarks openly. “I never sweat at work.” When they’re loading frozen shrimp, Coty might spend up to three hours a day in sub-zero temperatures.
“The first ten minutes is the coldest, but after you get used to it, it ain’t so bad.” But some people never get used to it.
“I know some guys who show up at 6 AM for their first day of work and then never come back from their lunch breaks,” he explains. “They just can’t handle it.” Delcambre is a town where summer temperatures average in the high nineties, and where palm trees compete with the telephone poles.
“You gotta have a good set of clothes,” counsels Coty. Since local stores rarely carry the kind of serious winter gear he needs, he orders some of his winter gear by mail. Does he wear long underwear?
“Nope, just these,” he points to a single layer of clothing underneath his snowsuit. It’s still hot down here in Louisiana. For guys like Coty, a job in the freezer is a welcome break from heat.