Snow Days: How My Interaction with Winter Weather Changed Over Time

    I was going to do a review of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings or the new second season of the Animaniacs reboot, making up for the fact that I haven’t written a review since I talked about Transformers: War for Cybertron back in August, but then I realized that my audience is largely made up of people who have enjoyed reading my articles covering animals (either extant or extinct), world governments (both legitimate and selfproclaimed), and the modern space race (I’ve talkedlot about that topic). If you wanted to read a review of the latest movie or TV show, you’d be going to a professional with an actual track record. Instead, you come to me. Today’s topic will be my thoughts on snow days, seeing as the first snow of the season fell in my area recently.

After mentioning them both, I will reveal that Shang-Chi rocks. Animaniacs is good, but it’s overly political at times

   Snow days are a beautiful thing when you’re a kid, as if God Himself were giving you a respite from the struggles of homework and teachers. Those poor souls whose parents homeschool them or who happen to live in a climate that doesn’t allow snow to form are worthy only of pity as they are forced to learn while children from northern climates are building snow forts, sledding, or sitting inside watching TV on their device of choice. I have several memories from the snow days of my youth, from the time the power went out and I had to hand out my collection of reading lights to the time my Dad got his work van stuck halfway out of the driveway in his attempt to get to work on time. It’s that last one that sparked my thoughts today – only partially because it amuses me to remember the time my father tried to use a child-sized snow shovel to dig out the tires once he got stuck.

The scale difference was the exact opposite of this, but I didn’t have a camera when I was in middle school

   The thing I realized from looking back at my treasured childhood memories was that my father never really has a snow day. The older you get, the less it seems like people care about your wellbeing during bad weather. When I was in college, that was understandable – when you live on campus, any weather that keeps you from making it to class will be pretty rare. It got cold enough to close down campus for an entire Wednesday in the winter of 2018/2019, and that was about it when it came to full-on weather related cancellations. But the fact that so few workplaces will give you a day off because of dangerous weather is an entirely different matter; unless you work from home, an adult is  just as likely to end up hurt or stranded by a blizzard on their daily commute as a kid on their way to school. I’ve got a good boss who wouldn’t make me come in on a day where I would be at risk, but not everyone is so lucky. In a family where only one parent is present, the disparity between snow days for adults and for children could lead to some real danger. The possibility that a single parent might be told to keep their children home but still be expected to go to work themselves is worrying even to think about, presenting the hypothetical person with the choice to either leave their kids alone at home and in hazardous conditions or risk losing out on a day’s pay. In some situations where your employer disagrees with you about the severity of the weather, they can legally fire you for not coming in to work; I hope I never have to meet anyone who would do such a thing.

I’m pretty sure they’d look like this, though

    Even in places like the Midwestern United States, we are well aware that winter weather isn’t something you can just laugh off. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services put together a nice little pdf about the topic of extremely cold winter weather here in the Badger State, and apparently that cold snap from 2019 I mentioned earlier killed at least eleven people. Taking into consideration the fact that even experienced drivers can easily crash during a winter storm, the Midwestern countryside is often sparsely populated, and that even your average RV isn’t built to handle extreme subzero temperatures, it becomes clear that even minor car trouble during school-closing weather could easily be a death sentence.

From January until halfway through spring, living in Wisconsin is basically just playing an extra in the first act of The Empire Strikes Back.

   In a scenario where someone is stranded out in the middle of nowhere during a snow storm they are supposed to keep a selection of emergency gear like blankets, first aid supplies, signaling devices, and food. Cell phones take care of the signaling part these days, but it will still take time for rescuers to reach a crash site, meaning that the rest of the kit is still important. I have known people who keep one or two of the items listed above in their vehicle, but a full emergency snow kit is pretty rare to find even here in Wisconsin – nobody is expecting to be in an emergency, and even if they were, why should employers feel okay with asking their staff to take the risk? If it’s too cold or snowy for our youth to get to school, I say we figure out some way to announce when it’s too bad to make employees work. Even in situations where they can safely make it in, there’s always the possibility of being stranded at your workplace after the weather worsens, and if that doesn’t sound like a hazard to be avoided you clearly aren’t in the majority.

Being stuck at work due to bad weather has a track record for going poorly – remember The Shining?

   Although the weather isn’t bad enough to worry about car crashes and freezing to death (as of the time of publication), I still felt like I should remind everyone to be prepared before a cold snap sneaks up on you, always remember to take care of those who are struggling with the downsides of a beautiful layer of fallen snow, and try to avoid making things harder for those who have to obey your orders by recognizing that weather patterns don’t care how much you need a project or commission done on time – your work will be done as soon as Jack Frost isn’t trying to steal your employee’s fingers and they can safely drive to work.

Also, thanks to William Cope over at Horror Flora for accepting the two entries I submitted for his website’s fifth anniversary, as I really enjoyed discussing the elements of Grendel and Mbwun that made them work as monsters. His site is different than mine in some ways, but it’s good stuff.

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