Our recent snow days have given quite a few people a few moral dilemmas to work through…

I’m lucky – I don’t have far to go to get to work (and I love my work!!), only having a few steps from my house to my studio – so I don’t have the dilemma many face, but it’s been a subject of discussion in my house this week.

My husband is a music teacher, teaching in schools around a largely rural area which has been hit hard by the recent snowfall and icy conditions.  For him, there is no dilemma – if the schools are open, then he has a duty to do his utmost to get in.  Our local radio stations have an important role to play here, and they broadcast up-to-date information on school closures as they come in, so all he has to do is listen to the local radio station, see which schools are in, and ensure he gets there for his scheduled time.  His only problem is digging himself out of the drive, and negotiating icy school car parks.

Our son has a job in a nearby city (around 12 miles away).  He works shifts in a shop.  He has a work ethic and feels responsible for getting in whenever it is physically possible, and he’s not missed any of his shifts through the bad weather, but that is also because he wasn’t down for shifts when the weather was at its worst. 

We had a big family discussion about people taking snow days, and we came to the conclusion that it’s a fine balance.  On the one hand, if you have the attitude that you must get in no matter what (as my father always did), you could get stuck for hours in freezing temperatures and block up the roads for the emergency services and for people in the emergency services who do need to get to work.  Teachers have a care of duty to students to try to get in to school so that students can have somewhere to go so that not only they, but their parents, can do whatever is (or seems) best for them. 

However, if your journey isn’t totally necessary (and what is necessary varies from person to person), then you shouldn’t put yourself and others at risk by going out.  Some older people feel that a hair appointment is totally necessary and of vital importance to them and you can’t get them to see otherwise, and they risk falling and breaking bones, or crashing cars that they can’t control in bad conditions.  But who’s to say that a shopping trip to collect milk and break isn’t essential?   

And there’s always the person who hates their job and is delighted for any excuse to miss a day…..

I was supposed to attend a symposium on Anni Albers this weekend, with a friend, and was really looking forward to it.  My friend had to cancel coming up because of the weather conditions at her end, and it was pretty bad here.  The roads were clear but the forecast wasn’t terribly clever.  On the morning itself, the roads were clear of snow, but freezing fog and black ice had me on edge and I wasn’t sure if the conditions would extend all the way to the venue which was a good 1 1/2 hour journey away on a good day.  So in the end I had to give up and cancel.  You can imagine my disappointment when the lady on the end of the phone said that everything was clear at her end, but I also had a committment to get back in good time to play in a big band concert in the evening, which I had to be there for.  In the end, I knew I had done the right thing – especially when we travelled to the concert through freezing fog again! 

So, whilst there is no clear right or wrong decision about snow days, it certainly depends on conditions in your specific area (which can vary so much in just 1 mile!), and on the importance in your own mind of your journey.  And of course, your own moral fibre!