Calling it a Snow Day

Starting in fifth grade, I went to Public School. Not only did I switch out of a private, Catholic grade school, I went from a school starting with an S to a school starting with a W. That meant I had to watch every other school in the entire world flash across the bottom of the TV before I found out if mine was closed for a Snow Day. Too often it wasn’t, and I would sit, unmoving, unblinking, making sure I read every name again, letter by letter, so as to be sure I didn’t miss my school.

Our district superintendent was from Minnesota, or Michigan, or some such Northern M state. I wasn’t alone in imagining him cackling in front of a roaring fireplace with his hands in front of his face tapping fingertip to fingertip as he contemplated the most heartbreaking way to send the message to parents and students alike: School is open. He only wanted to make us suffer, and we knew it. Six inches was breakfast to him, growing up Up There, but to us, desperate for a day off kids in the Midwest, it was a whole day of missed runs down the hill on whoever’s sled didn’t break during the last snow day, it was missed snowball fights, it was sandwiches in the lunchroom not hot chocolate in the dining room.

It was crap. The “walked uphill both ways” argument fell on deaf ears, though I think the kids said the adults said that more than the adults actually said it. It was easy to latch on to. That was then, when They walked. This was now, and we took busses and cars and the roads, oh why did they treat the roads?!

The week after New Years the schools in Atlanta closed because it was too cold. I lamented how I wanted school closed as a kid because it was “too cold”. The last week of January, schools closed because two inches of snow brought the city to a standstill. This second week of February, the schools are closed again and I can still see the dirt between the blades of grass. It’s just I can see it through a layer of ice.

Last year I casually accepted the responsibility of being the inclement weather decision maker for the office. It was easy then – I was regularly the only one in the office. Of course I can make that decision. I’m wonderful at being responsible for myself. I went through the process with the office manager from our home office, and filed it in the “probably never going to happen, but I should keep it anyway” file.

Fast-forward a year and there are now ten people regularly in the office, including two people whose position are far senior to mine, and the responsibility still rests with me. We’re in the middle of our second winter weather “event” in two weeks, and twice much of the conversation has been filtered through me, with laughs as they are with a bunch of Northern Southerners, ending with the group decision that it doesn’t matter anyway because no one is coming in regardless.

Though I do not make the decision alone, as I imagine, now as an adult, the evil villain school district superintendent didn’t make his decision alone either, I’ve maintained, and quite happily I should note, the position to send the email that will let everyone know the decision they already made for themselves is office wide. There’s comfort in the consensus that no one else went in either, and as the too-oft regarded as the red-headed step-child of offices, it’s good to present a united front.

Evil villain school district superintendent often waited until morning, last-minute to many of us school children, before making the final decision. He understood, I imagine, that predictions are just that – predictions – and until the weather system arrives and the situation assessed for its actuality and not its supposedly, a confident decision is difficult to make. Snow days, after all, are not unlimited in quantity, and as fun as they are, summer camp is way more fun.

I too now wait until morning before I decide if its best to close the office. It’s never officially closed; well, I don’t use those words, “the office is closed”, because our office is such that anyone who wants to be an asshole and drive through ice and snow to get to work can function without anyone else showing up. Rather, I suggest no one take any risks and work from home.

We can all work from home. Between laptops, VPN, cell phones, iPads, and the technology of today, unless power goes out and batteries die, none of us are disconnected. Part of me thinks it’s too bad schools can’t be as connected as businesses, that teachers can’t teach from their living room while students connect from their kitchen table. Part of me thinks, that unless there’s a threat to summer vacation, kids and snow days is a tradition that shouldn’t be broken.

*****

Did you have to wait until the end of the alphabet to know if your school was closed? Did you have an evil villain school district superintendent who refused to close school except under the most dire of circumstances? Do you work from home in bad weather, and how much work do you actually do?

*Featured image is mine
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15 thoughts on “Calling it a Snow Day

  1. Here is how things work at my current place of employment:
    “Due to extreme weather conditions, (Midwest college where I work) has declared a level 2 weather condition status. This level 2 weather status pertains only to nonessential employees; essential-function employees should report for work at their regularly scheduled times.

    Non-essential personnel should determine for themselves whether they should report to work and can do so safely. Failure to report under Level 2 conditions will require the use of benefit time should the employee wish to be paid and will not be counted adversely for adherence to attendance standards.”

    In other words, they never close. I’m non-essential, but if I “choose” not to come to work, I have to use sick or vacation time. It blows as hard as the winter winds.

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    • Oh that stinks! We are not required to use our vacation time, thank goodness. That’s a rotten thing to do. I hope you stay safe and warm!

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  2. Our schools went by number. I was in MSAD 68 for my whole life. When I had kids we were in a different district. MSAD 63 was their number. Luckily, the news would list the MSAD number AND the names of the schools. In my advanced age I would get the numbers confused….but now, the entire state has ‘reorganized’. The kids are in AOS 81 now. Happily, I don’t really need to know this. When school is closed I get a cell phone call, an email, a land line call and a text message. Technology is super.

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    • It looks like WordPress ate my comment. I replied, but where it went?
      I don’t know if I could keep up with a number system, but I suppose I would adapt. Though, from what I’ve heard from others, schools make sure you don’t miss the announcement. Four messages! That would drive me nuts.

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  3. I run a department and manage 9 people. My policy has always been, if you don’t feel safe then do not come into the office. It’s easy for everyone to work from home. Unfortunately, I’m very aware that some people take big advantage, promise to do their work and just tune out. Then again, here I am commenting on a blog 🙂

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    • I’m sure people will take advantage, and YouTube and the like will get more hits today than a normal Wednesday, but I do know we’ll get everything done. Everyone is aware of how much our home office people are laughing that all it takes is a threat of snow to send us into a tizzy.

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      • My entire family is in NYC and I tried unsuccessfully to explain the last ice storm’s effects to them. All in all you’re definitely right, everything will work out. And frankly, my job has become so fast paced it’s a nice break from someone sticking their head in my office every 20 minutes with a new problem.

        Ahhhhh…I think I got as much done as a regular day in the office so far today.

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  4. I qualify as a senior in this age-conscious society we live in. Growing up I never heard the words “snow day” and we DID walk to school, up and down hills on roads that lacked sidewalks. One treacherous mid-day snow during my high school years shut down the busses but not the school. The walk home was over three hours but we were young and made it a great adventure. Then I became a teacher and learned the meaning of “snow day.” I taught is a little country school and roomed with a couple other teachers. The pastor would call off school. We would dance a jig on the dining room table, disconnect the phone (meaning disconnect distraught parents) and snuggle down for an extra hour(s) of sleep. No one rejoices on a snow day more than the teachers!

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    • You walked for three hours from high school to home? And here I was complaining about that silly walk down the hill two weeks ago – where it is, laughably, uphill both ways with no sidewalks. 🙂
      I think teachers here must feel like they haven’t had school all year. Every time we turn around, winter stops us again.

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  5. I just read an article in USA Today where some schools were giving kids work via the Internet during the snow days. The kids came back grumbling that it was more work than being at school itself. I had mixed feelings about that. I think all kids should get to enjoy an exciting snow day at home without worrying about school work. On the other hand, when they miss so many, it’s a great alternative to making those days up, and it can be a godsend for parents working from home while their kids are running around the house. Will be interesting to see what the future holds. One thing I do love, however, is getting text message alerts when school is canceled. No need to stare at that TV screen anymore, especially in NE Ohio where there are endless schools!

    Such power you have in making that decision. Not sure I’d want it. I feel for you!

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    • Kids should get snow days. They are built into the system, and it’s really tons of fun, at first. We’re up to so many now we’re looking at extending the school year. Now is the time when online classrooms would be beneficial, but to do it every time? I don’t see that doing anything in the long run. These lottery-like days off give everyone the recharge to come back refreshed.

      It’s more like making the consensus official than making the decision, but I expect people expect to hear from me before deciding to change pajama pants for dress pants. It still makes me nervous though. Ultimately, my name is on the original email.

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