Friday, February 25, 2011

Snow Days

"Mulder, it's just snow."
Snow days.

As a kid, there were few greater gifts than a random snow day. The excitement the night before, the anticipation overwhelming...SNOW! Then, the next morning, waking up early and running out into the living room, plopping on the floor in my footie pajamas, waiting to hear the name of my school. Then, it was either a squeal of joy or a groan of an unwritten book report.

If there was a snow day, it was fantastic. It was a totally free unplanned and unscheduled day.

A snow day was like Christmas morning. Snarfing my cereal quickly so I could get outside to play. Maybe build a snow something456 or go sledding. My mom would wrap me in scarves and mittens and hats and boots and...a snow suit. And just like Randy from A Christmas Story, unable to move or put my arms down, I would shuffle outside to play.

I might make a snow fort or maybe a snow creature (I never had the dedication to make a snow man). Who knew?

Then as an adult, snow days started to take on an entirely different meaning. Depending on your job, a snow day could be a free day to get caught up on laundry or it could be a bitter unpaid day where you seethe and simmer about losing out because you work with wussies that couldn't make it in.

I had the joy of working for a boss that once threatened my job if I didn't make it in, even though the city had declared a snow emergency and the Mayor informed residents that if you are not an emergency worker and you are in the streets driving, you would be fined. That was a good time. I made it in 2 hours late to find out our department was the only one in the building besides a few scattered Vice-Presidents. I was there about an hour before we were told to go home by the higher ups. Yes, the vein in my forehead is ready to pop out just thinking about that scenario.

The strangest snow day experience I ever had though was when I lived in Tennessee. Even by Cleveland standards, it was a vicious snow and ice storm. I had my power knocked out for a little over a day, but due to my good fortune of living next to a business district it was restored rather quickly compared to my neighbors across the street. Other people in the city would go without power for days, in some parts of the state, weeks. Tennessee was not even remotely prepared to handle a snow storm, and especially not one of that magnitude. I remember being scared out of my mind watching guys in pick up trucks roaming neighborhoods with chainsaws. I was relieved to see that they were actually clearing the roads, hacking apart whatever trees had fallen. Since I had power, I received all sorts of calls from people, some wanting to walk over, some considering a drive to get warm and maybe mooch some food.

I had two co-workers in particular that I was friends with that were without power from the storm. One, we'll call Fraiser and the second we'll call Suzanne. Frasier packed up and came over my house, a normal 10 minute drive that ended up taking about an hour and a half. We hung out for a while, had a sandwich and then I started to receive disturbing telephone calls from Suzanne. 

"Am I roaming?"
This my friends was the time before cell phones were prevalent. Very few people had them and those that did have mobile phones had to figure out how to get the darn things to work. Sometimes you were roaming, sometimes you had to switch channels. Sometimes you had to switch channels to roam. You always had to remember to pull the antenna out. They were in a word, a pain.

Anyway, Suzanne wanted to come over, freezing and hungry and lonely and she finally said she was going to just do it. She was going to brave evil mother nature and come over.

Suzanne, a true Southerner, had very little experience with snow and even less driving in it. Frasier and I were worried that if Suzanne did try and make it to us, if something happened, there was no way to get help to her other than climb through snow drifts.

Frasier and I threw caution to the wind (possibly ill from cabin fever) and drove to Suzanne's house to rescue her. What we saw was shocking. It was one of those situations that you look at one another and  make a silent vow to never discuss again. Until now of course.

The roads were terrible. There were no plows, no salt trucks. There were a few bobcats in the road trying to clear the way. There were a few city pickup trucks with, I swear to this, guys in the back shoveling sand into the road.

I made my way up the winding mountain road, and then we saw her. Suzanne was knee deep in snow trying to dig out her car with the top of a plastic patio end table. It was like a scene from Band of Brothers when they were in Bastogne. There was a soldier that was trying to dig a fox hole in the frozen ground with his bare hands. Thinking back, that is what she reminded me of.

Later that night we ventured out and walked a block or so to a restaurant that was open and had many beverages of an adult variety.

Hmm. Remembering that story makes my day today of watching an American Chopper marathon while doing work stuff with the cat trying to eat my sandwich seem pretty tame.


  1. I lived in Georgia for a while and once saw someone try to scrape off their windshield with a pen. When I moved down there, I still had my scraper in the backseat, until someone asked why I was carrying around a "tiny rake."

  2. I have to give it to the Southerners for thinking outside of the box for snow removal, but it was still a bizarre experience for sure.