The ice is not so thin


If you’ve been paying attention to the news over the weekend then you’ve probably heard about the ice storms that have affected the northeast over the past few days. Apart from a few car crashes, Toledo doesn’t seem to have been hit that hard. We’ve still got a fair deal of ice everywhere; it’s kind of eerie to look out of my window right now and see the lights from the highway being reflected off of the bare tree limbs and wilting evergreens. However, whenever the possibility of an ice storm arises, I can’t help but think of how in recent years some ice storms in places near here — Montreal and western New York, to name just a couple — downed power lines for several days, causing many more deaths than have resulted from this weekend’s storm. Remembering those stories, and imagining what it must be like to be without heat or food for days on end in the freezing cold of December, kind of makes me feel bad for telling myself how much of a pain it will be to have to scrape the ice off of my car tomorrow before I go up to teach. Compared to what people in Quebec and New York went through, I’ve got it relatively easy here.

That being said, I’m not going to deny that there is a part of me that hopes that work shuts down before I have to go up tomorrow. (We’d originally had more ice in the forecast for this evening and into tomorrow, but now the forecasts are saying we won’t have any precipitation at all until late in the evening tomorrow.) It isn’t that I don’t want to teach — I love my work — but at the same time I’m not going to deny that I still shelter a bit of my childhood mind inside of me, and that the thought of a "snow day" kind of makes me cheer a little to myself, thinking of staying home in elementary school and watching game shows like Press Your Luck and The Price is Right. (Were I to have a snow day now, of course, I’d more than likely sleep in and do some extra reading.) Given how close we are to the end of the semester, taking a snow day tomorrow would be difficult for my class — I’m handing back the penultimate drafts of their final papers tomorrow, and they’ll only have a week after that to revise them and turn them in with their final portfolios — but I’m not going to deny that a snow day would be totally unwelcome for me.

I guess part of what may be going on here is that whenever there were snow days when I went to UT, they always came at inopportune times, either when I didn’t have class or, in one memorable instance, I had an oral exam scheduled for Japanese class and the school shut down five minutes before I was scheduled to take it. I think I actually had more classes canceled on me because of 09.11 than because of the weather the whole time I was at UT. (Of course, the semester after I graduated, the whole city shut down for two days because of a blizzard.) I understand that the bar is kind of set higher for closing colleges due to the weather than for closing other schools, but at the same time when I read stories online about all the traffic accidents that have happened since the ice storm, it makes me wonder if maybe we need to set the bar at least a little lower. As important as a lot of businesses are, and as important as I consider my teaching to be, when you hear about all the serious injuries and fatalities that have happened in the wake of this storm, you really have to rethink the whole risk/reward factor involved in trying to drive on roads that are so icy.

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