Snow days, off and running

Published Jan 9, 2018 at 4:00pm

Growing up in the country, and having to ride the bus to school was a big part of my life back in the ‘60’s. During the long cold winters, I have fond memories off “snow days”. However, these days were few and far between, canceled only once or twice over an entire winter. I can’t recall a single time that school was canceled because of the cold. It was always because of the sheer volume of snow.

I was blessed with a mother who instilled in us that we “dress for the weather.” On those brutally cold days we wore a hat, mittens, a warm winter jacket, suitable footwear and, if cold enough, a wool scarf. 

Because the roads were snow-covered occasionally the bus would be a little late, but it always came. The bus had a heater but couldn’t quite maintain a comfortable temperature on the frigid days, but no one ever froze. Occasionally, I’d spend the night with a friend in the city and needed to walk to school. After a heavy snow the streets and walks were not maintained perfectly, but we made due, pressed on and always made it to school. 

Today everything is so much better. Our buses are constructed better, they handle better in the snow, have far more safety features, and I’m sure the heaters are toastier. Streets and roads are cleared in a much more timely manner than decades ago, and weather reports are far more accurate. Through education, driver awareness, better laws and reliable crossing guards our walking students are safer than ever. One would think that because of all these improvements the number of snow days would decrease each year, but they have haven’t.

I don’t envy the individuals making the decision whether or not schools should close. The fallout from a “What if” situation must have them fearing for their jobs. Heaven forbid if a school bus slid off a road into a ditch and a student broke an arm. Oh, the uproar on social media would be deafening!

Unscrupulous, ambulance chasing lawyers would be climbing over one another to represent the parents of the victim. I could just hear their justification. “Public school officials don’t care about the safety of these venerable students who depend on our good judgment to keep our precious children safe, but instead are forced to bare unimaginable hardships on dangerous snow-covered roads in arctic-like temperatures… blah blah blah!”

Our school administrators are under an obligation to academically prepare this generation of students to be ready for the working world. It’s a shame that these same officials don’t instill hardships as a teaching tool. The harsh and cruel realities of life will be out there waiting to knock them down. 

When our next generation joins the working class, many will be in for a surprise. While schools will enjoy another “snow day” these naive brand-new employees will find that their boss does not provide this stay home luxury. Delivery truck drivers still venture out onto snow-covered roads. Construction workers bundle up and report to work at 7:00. Hospital doors remain open and doctors still see patients. Despite brutally cold conditions our garbage is picked up and mail is still delivered. While our schools close, our factories still produce, warehouses ship goods and restaurants will serve you a hot meal.

Adverse weather can be a great metaphor for life. Adversity is waiting around every corner. Prepare, accept, adjust, and press on.

— Larry Ehlinger, Rome