Typically, when snow is forecast for central Indiana (and maybe other places, I don’t know), the projection of accumulating inches far exceeds the reality. How do I know this and why do I care? It goes back to being a teacher—of course. Doesn’t everything?
Teachers live for snow days! Oh, some may say, “I don’t want a snow day because I don’t want to make it up in June” but the reality of that argument is that the day in June that is “made up” is more or less a day spent wrapping up loose ends. Tests are already taken, grades are submitted, books are returned to their summer storage place, and the time is spent signing yearbooks, cleaning out lockers, and possibly taking the whole class outside for an impromptu field trip. So in reality, that make up day is not nearly as painful as finally having to schlep your sorry and slippery self into school, fishtailing your way into the parking lot (while the parking lot of the district administration building next door remains empty well into the morning).
The next best thing to a snow day is the two-hour delay. For the uninitiated, a two-hour delay just pushes the day back two hours, meaning two additional hours of sleep. Über teachers I’ve worked with (there’s a couple in every school, apparently) would stoically brave the icy and snow covered roads so they could proclaim to the rest of us, two hours later, that they used that time to work in their classrooms. Not me. I considered the concept of the two-hour delay a slice of serendipity in an otherwise mundane week.
The drama that precedes the announcement of the snow day or two-hour delay is nearly as exciting as the announcement itself. Will they or won’t they? Who actually makes the call? My dad, a man my readers will get to know on a whole new level real soon, was a high school principal in northwestern Pennsylvania from 1952 until 1973. In the 1960s, it was his job to “make the call”. That meant that at around three in the morning our phone would start ringing. “Mr. A? Are yinz havin’ school today? I need to know if I should hitch up the plow so’s I can git the young’uns to the end of the driveway…” or “Mr. A? Clyde wants to know if he should start milking now, ‘cause he’s guessing with all a this snow, the cows are going to be slow gettin’ into the barn, and he don’t want to miss the bus, but if yinz aint havin’ school, then he can sleep a extra hour…” My dad would suit up, walk down to the end of our driveway with a flashlight, check the road, then traipse back up and “make the call”. Making the call involved calling WICU TV in Erie to tell them that the Linesville schools would be closed that day. He then gave them what I can only guess was a secret password, then our phone number so that they could call back to confirm that he really was James R. Abercrombie, principal of Linesville High School and the man charged with making the call.
Now that I’m no longer teaching and my kids are older, snow days and two-hour delays have lost their sparkle. I do, however, rally in spirit for my teacher friends. Even if they moan at the prospect of having to go to school past Memorial Day weekend, I know that deep down they’re secretly delighted at the prospect of having a day all to themselves. To me, snow days and two hour delays were little gifts that allowed me to snuggle with my kids, make a big breakfast, and maybe take a long nap on a snowy afternoon. What’s not to love about that?