You’re Doing Snow Days Wrong

It’s a habit that is developed early in life and never seems to fade. From that first winter in Kindergarten (even though Kindergarten is fun, much more fun than a full-time job, and those kids have no right to complain), we learn to wish for the magic of a Snow Day. Some have a dance or a chant, while others rely on the power of prayer. “Oh my God, God, please don’t make me go to school tomorrow.” But for every flake of snow or drop of freezing rain that is forecast, we are united in the common hope that we can have one blissful day of sleeping in and wearing pajamas and not having talk to a single person.

And along with these habits of hoping come the rituals for compulsively checking if your dreams have come true. Thanks to the internet, you can easily check your status online, hitting refresh repeatedly until something changes. Or better yet, just wait for a text, tweet, or email alert. But back in my day there was a little more effort and stress involved.  You could watch the news, hoping to see the name of your county scroll across the bottom of the screen – your breath catching in your chest as each new name appeared and your heart dropping when you saw one repeat, meaning the list had come and gone without your school on it. Or maybe you’d call the inclement weather hotline, which was faster, but still full of suspense. They always started with the date. Ok blablabla we know what day it is, cut to the chase! Then they’d state the county, “Montgomery County Schools are…” and you’d analyze the tone of the recorded voice. “Oh yeah she sounds like it’s serious, she is enunciating like she has really important information to convey, we are totally closed,” or “Oh no, she sounds so nonchalant and a little dismissive, like we are idiots to even be calling because obviously schools aren’t closed. Crap, we are so open.” And then there is that long pause right before the one part you really want to hear, like when Ryan Seacrest announces who didn’t get enough votes on American Idol, because I guess they are under the impression that people are patient and like to wait for things – because that is what America is about: delayed gratification. In any case, the moment of truth is upon you. “Schools are…”

And then finally, the verdict: Closed. And your heart soars, trumpets sound, confetti flies.

But not for everyone. Apparently there are people who couldn’t be bothered to check the weather and just show up to work on time every day like fools! Yesterday, my office had a two-hour delay due to snow. When I arrived at work, I overheard a woman explaining that she had no idea there was a delay and arrived first thing in the morning. My immediate reaction was,

No idea? Lady, when you wake up and see snow outside, you check for closings! Fact. That is the first thing you do. Even if you think, “No, they couldn’t possibly close for this!” Yes, yes they could. Are you new here? They have and they do and they will again. It doesn’t take much. That is the beauty of it. I mean, I didn’t even SLEEP that night because every 30 minutes I asked myself, Do you think they’ve decided yet, should I check now?? I basically lost 8 hours of sleep wondering if I’d be getting 2 extra. But I at least knew what was going on.

Then today, the forecast was for snow in the early morning. Like any sane person, I went to bed planning to wake up, check the internet, and go back to bed because obviously, everything would be closed. But my sweet snowy slumber was interrupted by a phone call from my boss letting me know that the office was closed. This was very nice, but buddy, when there is a day off of work at stake, I make it my business to know. I may have had grilled cheese for dinner every night for the past week, but this? I’m on top of it. I don’t mess around with Snow Days.

134 thoughts on “You’re Doing Snow Days Wrong

  1. LOL!! Reminds me of the time i was in school…no snow…but the rains would call for a day off! There were times when we actually managed to reach school, to be told its a rainy day holiday. Well, even that was welcome.

  2. I really enjoyed reading all these Snow Day memories. Naturally in Australia we don’t get much snow. My childhood hopes were pinned on the temperature reaching 100 degrees (fahrenheit) so we could go home early. Air conditioned schools have put an end to that, poor modern day kids.
    I did however enjoy a snow day once here in Tasmania where it does snow. One August night in 2006 there were heavy snowfalls and the road to Hobart was impassable. I wouldn’t have been able to get to work but wouldn’t you know, it was my day off! I did get up early and take photos of my snow covered garden and walk into the town though. I’ve been wishing for another Snow Day ever since.

  3. Pingback: You’re Doing Snow Days Wrong | Off The Record

  4. My last employer didn’t believe in Snow Days. One inch or six feet of snow, they were open – county hazard warnings be damned. When I missed because of snow, I would always get the silent treatment when I returned. I think they were jealous that I was at home in my PJs enjoying fresh hot coffee all day.

  5. Yes, you’ve hit the nail on the head with your take on snow days back when “we” (I have no idea how old you are but I can certainly relate to what you’re saying) were in school. Man, that Seacrest pause at the end was PURE. TORTURE. But all was forgiven if those magical words did happen to spill forth from the recorded lady’s mouth!

  6. I am from India, and a prat of it where, it does not snow. But yes, it reminds me of a time when I was a kid and my brothers are sisters were very excited about snow days. They used to tell us story about how they did not let know anyone back home if he school was closed and then, directly land in a movie theatre…
    It was nice to cherish those memories.

  7. At my job we don’t really have snow days. We have days where you don’t get fired for not showing up. I guess that’s kindof the same …

  8. Snow days are one of the reasons I became a teacher! It is a magical moment when you first see the district name on screen! Now, the trick is to get my kids district to stay open, but mine to close. Much more challenging.

  9. I live in NYC and go out to dinner whenever it snows. The restaurants are less crowded and the city seems magical. Give it a try. Of course….I don’t have to drive in it.

  10. I love this! I, unfortunately, cannot relate very much. I live in Georgia and we never get snow! Boooooo! But let me tell you, when there are clouds in the sky? All the youngsters are the same way. Storms + dirt roads = “snow day!” Great article!

  11. During a recent trip to Alaska, a small shop owner informed me that Alaskan schools do not close until it reaches below negative 40. After learning this, I was invited to enter the stores ’40 Below’ room. Of course I went in out of pure curiosity. In negative 40 temperatures, a banana is solid enough to hammer a nail into a piece of wood. There has to be a dirty joke about that somehow, but I was just too damn cold to figure it out!

  12. Word UP! Here in North Carolina, if somebody’s Meemaw somewhere hears that it might snow down our way, then the next day- BAM- the whole Triad area is shut down for a week and all the grammas collectively go out to buy all the milk, butter and eggs off the shelf, nothing else. Apparently, our grandmothers knew a secret the doomsday preppers don’t know: You really can live on eggs milk and butter for a good while if you have to. We like to look at snow, we like to sled down a decent hill of snow (the hill leading down to the football field of Parkland High School in Winston-Salem was a popular best-kept secret for a group of us who met there every year) and we loved eating snow cream, which requires two consecutive days of snow but the first snow “only gets the shit outta the air,” our dad explained. But if it snowed again the next day we could eat it and mom would mix milk and sugar with it for us. Good times but the waiting- oh, the agony!

  13. I have endured four days in a row of treacherous driving here in West Michigan (where we get “lake effect” snow due to living 40 miles from the big lake, Lake Michigan). No one wants to have a snow day this early in the snow season, even when the roads are very dangerous and there are 40 car pile-ups on the freeway. Because we could get a blizzard, or we could get 8-12 inches in January, February and March.

  14. Living in Vancouver, the chances of a Snow Day are slim to none. And I grew up in a tropical country for middle and high school. So sadly I’ve never experienced a Snow Day school closure. However I like your post, and indeed agree we all are always on top things, when it comes to getting a day off, or something that gives you more sleep and rest is concerned.

  15. YES!! I love snow days, and wish we had more of them. My sister gets ‘snow days’ in D.C. — even when there doesn’t end up being any snow. Whereas here in Akron it’s 14 degrees outside and we’ve had a ton of snow and ice, and schools are still open. Not that I go to school, but still, kids need a good snow day sometimes! I work from home a lot so I guess I sort of get them anyway? But I like your attitude, there’s no messing around when it comes to snow days!!

  16. We homeschool… we don’t have to wait for snowdays 🙂 We can have them when we want….or just have a delay because we want to …. and there are days the other kids have snow days and we still have school. It balances out… it’s kind of nice. 🙂

  17. Spot on!! Of course, I feel for the guy in my office who lives on Kent Island, because what looks like a rainy day to him could very well be a closed snow-maggedon day over by I-95. But yes….I’m with you. Have the phone numbers lined up, bolt out of bed to see what the potential view may tell me….And is it just me but those days are so much more productive at home than any other, whether you measure productivity in rest or chores?

  18. I’m from the UK, and for snow days we used to have to listen to the radio every half hour, waiting for the closures and the long list of schools they’d read out. That was great! Definitely got a bit more techy when I got to uni though. Battled through a semi-blizzard to get to uni, only to receive a text, phone call AND email telling me my exams that day were cancelled!

  19. well for a Portuguese living in Hungary I don’t throw away snow days because everything is new for me. Everyone complains, that is hard to go to work, that it is cold, but for me is awesome.

  20. I will never the “joy” of a snow day. I’m a California Coast gal, and the closest we ever got was during El Nino in 1997 when the Monterey Peninsula basically became an island. The hills had slide and cut off access on Hwy 1 from the south, Hwy 68 had closed bridges, Carmel Valley Road had landslides, Hwy 1 had a bridge in the water …. so I had to call into work and say … “I can’t get there from here.” So once… once… I enjoyed that joy… unless you want to count in 6th grade during the Loma Prieta Earthquake when schools were closed for 3 days……

  21. As a child, a snow day meant having to stay home, way out in the country where there are no children to play with.

    As a teen, a snow day meant the same thing, only with a grainy black and white television that had no cable.

    As a 20-something, a snow day meant suiting up in winter work gear and heading out at 3 o’clock in the morning to clear 13 properties by hand for my snow removal business.

    Finally, as an adult, a snow day is whenever the hell I feel like wandering out with a camera and taking macro shots of frost on pine needles. Because Portland, Oregon, gets no snow.

      • Actually, it was awesome.

        Living out in the middle of nowhere as a kid meant I could play whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, and I never had to hear a group of spoiled little girls circle around me accusingly and whine, “Why would you want to go outside? It’s snowing out there!”

        No access to cable in my teens meant I dove into art, books, hiking, writing, singing, and imagination, instead. I became extremely well-read, creative, and athletic–things that have been effortless to maintain.

        Owning my own company in my twenties gave me an intoxicating freedom and the ability to earn rent in one blizzard. I got free food and coffee from businesses grateful for my services. Cops gave me license to drive wherever I wanted in the beautiful, snow-blanketed wee hours of a huge city because they knew I was there to help.

        And now I can have snow whenever I want it by driving up to the volcano, yet never have to get out of a warm bed to shovel it because it doesn’t fall down here in the valley. Winter has become restful and easy. Plus, ice and hoarfrost are far more photogenic, anyway.

        (But in the rare blizzard, it’s still fun to fire up the 4×4 and be first tracks on the road.)

  22. Screw sleeping in on a snow day! It gives you a second wind finding out you don’t have to go to school or to work! I scream “Yes!!”, then break out the snow gear and bust out of the doors to my house. The mission: make a snow angel or start a snowball fight… or… plan to bring the snowball fight indoors to the sorry suckers that think they’re going to have a peaceful day in. heh heh heeehhh…

  23. My kiddo was home schooled most of the years he *could* have experienced the primal joys of snow day, but *I* remember them. I don’t remember what I had for breakfast most days…but I remember those!

  24. I moved to Utah in high school from Western Washington where we got at least one snow day a year when we got our inch of snow. Then we moved to Utah where there is a lot of snow and had a blizzard in November but I still had to drive myself to school (having never driven in the snow before). I arrived and asked the teacher why school wasn’t cancelled and they told me that the last time school was cancelled for snow in my county was 10 years earlier. It was the most heartbreaking discovery of my life.

    All that is to say this post is fantastic and pretty much sums up exactly how waiting for snow “back in the day” could be.

  25. I grew up in Upper Michigan. We didn’t get “snow days”, but instead the schools were closed when the wind chill got below -60. Yes, MINUS 60 degrees. Here in Oklahoma, my daughter asked me for a ride home from the bus stop “because it’ll be cold”. Oh, child…you don’t KNOW cold. It snowed 4 inches and they got a five day weekend. My inner Yooper laaaaffs!

  26. I grew up in Maryland in the 80s so I enjoyed reading this — brought back great memories. (I remember holding my breath for Howard County schools in the TV ticker.) I now live in Johannesburg, where there is no such thing as a snow-day. And I don’t have a “real” job so even if there were snow days, it wouldn’t affect me. I don’t really miss snow at all, although we had a very brief, fluke snowstorm the winter before last and that was pretty cool. Snow in Africa, etc. etc. Anyway, nice post.

  27. That’s why we have to stay in the jammies, from lack of sleep and too much checking roflmao. I think we get up a LOT earlier on those potential days off than had we just had to go to work or to school!

  28. Hahah! I live for snow days! It’s funny how exciting they are. I was all excited about the snow here yesterday even though it was really just slush but there’s always hope it’ll turn into a blizzard. I can’t imagine not calling in to check for a delay at least. Still hoping for a snow day just for the chance to sit and read.

  29. I grew up in Fairfax County, and although it was a long, long time ago, I don’t remember them ever closing school just at the threat of snow. And the Feds never, ever closed, just liberal leave. At all of my recent jobs I more or less had to be there either way, so I adjusted my expectations. At least if we’re closed, I can wear jeans, get some work done, and order pizza for lunch on the firm’s dime. Sad? Pathetic? Check and check. Sigh.

  30. Heeeey…My work was delayed on Monday and closed on Tuesday, too. I was a little irritated to come to work at the delayed opening time on Monday and find a bunch of people already at work who had taken the good spots. Flippin’ overachievers.

  31. hahahahhaha! We’ve been doing this! Last night my son was wondering and I told him I bet that he would have school (he was off Friday, and again Monday, but surely they’d have school on Tuesday!) Five minutes later I got the phone call… nope, we still have roads that are impassable!

  32. Nice! Living here in NYC unless it’s a blizzard with three feet of snow nothing is closed. No snow days here, even though we ll want one!

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