The Importance of Snow Days

Two inches of snow is what we have right now in the DC area. Two years ago, the city would have come to a standstill and I’d be home right now, having vodka with breakfast, watching episodes of The Wire, and standing, naked, in my window as the private sector workers trudged sadly to work.

But, thanks to the Snowpocalypse of 2009-2010, and the repeated, empty-headed challenges from northern transplants that Washingtonians should man up, here I sit at my insane day job, where every sober moment feels like an entire lifetime slipping through my fingers.

Here’s the thing about DC and snow days – we need them. Half an inch of panic is just fine. We need the day off not because we’re afraid of the snow, or because our government response to snow removal is roughly equivalent to that of a small town in Namibia. We need it off because we’re all about to crack. All the time. Snow days save lives, folks!

Take my office here at a Mickey Mouse NPO outfit. We have a very active betting pool on who’ll be the first to come stalking through here with a gun. Assuming anyone survives, there’s lots of money to be made if you backed the right horse. My money’s on the guy who hates his wife and kids and puts his fist through his computer monitor once a month. My office mate has a paycheck or two riding on the guy who makes very frequent, very lengthy, and very involved pretend phone calls to celebrities on a toy cellphone.

If it wasn’t for the healing powers of vodka, Rome: Total War, and the tense stalemate with the old man who lives in the apartment across the courtyard from me, I’d probably be in the Crazed Gunman betting pool, as well. Thank god for healthy outlets, eh?

Traditionally, DC isn’t a town for snow. Every few years or so we get walloped but, normally, we go through winter with just a few inches here and there. So, with the exception of a tiny handful of holidays – and even fewer for the private sector – we trudge into work through a dark, suburban nightmare. From sidewalks that are never cleared, through a Metro system that has chosen to tile their stations and platforms with some sort of gelatin concentrate that, while defying traction of any sort, is guaranteed to shatter your skull when you fall.

The trains stop and start and stop and start without explanation because — god forbid — the tracks get wet! Then it’s the senseless cattle run up broken escalators and around gawking tourists to be vomited out onto a street loaded with aggressive bums who make more than we do each day and people who close their eyes when they turn right on red.

All that just to get to an office where the day moves with the dull, unhealthy, crushing tension of trench warfare. Shoeless bosses creeping around like ninjas, customers yelling obscenities and death threats over the phone, and always one eye on the Most Dangerous Employee Du Jour – he or she will be the one so enraged that we didn’t get a snow day that they go from office to office, seething, sweating, shaking, fists clenching and unclenching.

When I entered the working world, I realized what snow days were really about. They were about shutting people like that down. An honorary award, of sorts. A throwaway lifetime achievement. The last loophole in the serf-like American workplace. It’s a way of saying, hey, Charlie, why don’t ya take today off and, you know, practice breathing exercises or something?

We can’t openly acknowledge that somebody is about to shoot up the office. We can’t betray the insane American work ethic and give people freedom to travel and live and relax. But, by god, when there’s an inch of snow on the ground…all bets are off. That’s it! Apocalypse! Everyone stay home.

It won’t stop these people from eventually killing us, but it buys us all another day.

Are you reading this, northern transplants? Are you reading this, whiners who can’t stand to be home alone with your thoughts? You all need to shut up. The next time we get an inch of snow, I want to hear city-wide panic. I want a solid wall of freaked out people buying milk and toilet paper and refusing to drive or even walk to the bus. If you do this, you’ll save lives. It’s worth the sacrifice. And if you’re so afraid of having nothing to do, then I suggest you invest in a copy of Rome: Total War and a bottle of vodka. You can crush Carthage and lapse into a drunken stupor before noon. Trust me. It’s fun.