Snow Day. I think these two words are somewhere in the Top 20 list of words that can make a child’s day. The day when the weather gives you permission to stay home, sleep in and get a full day of play without fear of a tardy, absence or missed homework. I loved them and I know for a fact that my kids would love them…that is if they knew what a true snow day really was. When my Kiddies get a ‘snow day’ here in our lovely North Carolina home I always tell them about when I was 13 and The Snow Day That Never Was…
That’s right folks I didn’t get the luxury of growing up where the mere prediction of snow makes our phone ring announcing that school is out. No. I grew up in New York where there had to be at least 2 feet and no plows in sight before the school would even consider a delay much less a full snow day!
I remember sitting there watching the early morning news and those little scroll bars at the bottom trying to see if my school’s name would be on the list. We didn’t get phone calls, Facebook wasn’t even a thought in anyone’s mind and texts well let’s just say it was still during the evolution of the pager. So my only option was to sit there praying, wishing and hoping that the announcer would either repeat the list or at least scroll it below before I had to leave to still make homeroom.
Most days I never saw my school’s name and on the ones when I did it was only a 2 hour delay. Just enough additional time to plow our way through the snow drifts and the crazy drivers who decided parking their cars in the middle of the street was better than a real park just so they wouldn’t need to shovel out the next morning.
So that morning of my Freshman year of High School when I sat there trying to delay the inevitable and begging my Grandmother to wait just 5 more minutes so I could see if my school made the list I wasn’t surprised when she called it and said we had to go or we’d be late.
Now my High School was positioned in the middle of one of the steepest hills in the Bronx and trying to get to that entrance was pretty much impossible. So my Grandmother dropped me off at the bottom of the hill and left me to climb (like literally I had to hold on to a fence and fight the slide) my way to the school’s entrance. When I turned halfway up I saw she had already pulled off. Probably because some other lovely driver couldn’t stand to wait behind her.
So I continued my climb wondering why I insisted on wearing my Eastland’s (these where THE shoes to have in Catholic School back then) instead of my Tims (Timberlands for the non-New York readers…). As my toes started to lose feeling I noticed there wasn’t anyone standing outside or even near the school. This was weird even in the cold because most days students tried to delayed going inside for as long as possible. When I finally made it to the front door and reached open the door and escape the frigid winds cutting through my jacket – it wouldn’t budge. It was locked!
I looked around and this time noticed none of the cars normally parked in front of the school were there either. That’s when I heard a voice. It was one of the Nuns…
“Honey there is no school today. We called a Snow Day!”
What? What! A Snow Day!! So why am I here!?!?! Good Lord! I said thank you and half slid half shuffled my way back down the hill. What now? This was before cell phones. I had a pager but my Grandmother certainly didn’t. My house was nearly 20 blocks aways and again – The Eastlands!
I walked across the street to the Bodega (what up New York) and searched through my backpack for a quarter…yup folks a payphone was my only option. I dialed my house and of course – no answer! Where was she? I stood there for about 15 minutes trying to soak up as much heat as possible while figuring out what to do next. I had 2 more quarters and no clue how to reach her. What was she doing out in the snow? What was I doing out in this snow? Ugh…this day needed a reset!
This is the point in my story where my Teenager normally lets out a huge huff and tries to remind me that he grew up in New York for 10 years and knows what a snow day is. No my dear. No you do not. Because of this day you never got dropped off without me seeing your little tail walk directly into the school so no you have No Idea!
When the Bodega owner decided I had sucked up too much of his heat without buying anything I had to go outside. I stood there trying to figure out why I didn’t own a pair of gloves and how to somehow tie my hood tight enough to cover everything but my eyes I realized I was going to have to try and walk home. I didn’t have enough money for the bus and my pass was sitting in my warm room on top of my dresser because hey I was getting a ride so why would I need it right..?
As I walked I realized I didn’t even have the blessing of the wind being behind me…nope…I was walking right into it and the tiny pricks of ice cold air and snow reminded me with every step that I should have sat there in front of that TV for the extra 5 minutes to be sure school was actually happening.
After about 2 blocks of the 20 ahead of me I passed another payphone. I dialed my house again…no answer. Where was this woman?!?! Geesh! It’s snowing why are you out there…why am I out here?
I walked on and made it another 10 blocks – by this time I couldn’t feel toes or fingers and I was certain that my nose was going to fall off any moment. This was the day from Hell! Why couldn’t my Grandmother have just called her own Snow Day…? Why do we have to be the rule followers? Why do I always have to go for Perfect Attendance? Never again. Next time I see a flurry I’m done. No. School. For. Me. I don’t care what the News says!
Okay so that lasted about 5 minutes then my panic set it. Could I freeze to death? we learned about hypothermia…did I have that? Did I have frost bite and was that why I couldn’t feel my toes anymore? *Remember I was 13, cold and maybe a bit dramatic – maybe.
Another payphone! Please Please PLEASE let her answer!! Nope. Nothing. Just a ring. Over and over and over. So I kept walking. Then I heard someone blowing their horn…like seriously blowing it like crazy! People! It’s snowing. No one can drive fast…why are you bugging? As I looked to my left I saw a short snow covered woman waving one arm with her other arm inside the car blowing that darn horn! Wait! Was…is that…
I ran across the street as fast as my half frozen feet could take me. As I got in the car she hugged me and said she heard on 1010Wins that my school was closed and she came back as soon as she could but apparently when she was looking for me I was calling her from the Bodega. Then when she was driving back I was still standing in there. So she’d been driving the route back and forth trying to find me. It had only been about an hour but it felt like forever!
My Grandmother took me home and chipped my now frozen clothes away. Drew me the bubbliest and hottest bath ever and fed me warm soup and PB&J sandwiches for the rest of the day. My snowy excursion on this Snow Day That Never Was lead to a pretty bad cold and I ended up staying out of school for the next week.
As I end my story, I look at my Kiddies faces and realize even though they have never had a snow day like mine it doesn’t matter to them…they just know that for them Snow Day still ranks as 2 of their favorite words ever!
Do you kids have a Snow Day like you did as a kid?