Snow day stories | Mark’s Remarks

As I write these words, the weather folks are predicting Snowmageddon once again. Surely our friends up north are laughing at us.

My dear friend sent me the funniest video clip of a guy getting hysterical after leaving his house and seeing flurries. He begins to scream and cry out in anguish about needing to get milk and eggs.

It’s really hilarious.

I think everything is political and manipulative. I’m one of THOSE people.   I think the weather folks know they are going to get ratings if they whip everyone into a frenzy. We’ve learned from the past few years that large numbers of people can be ruled by fear and anger.  

“Let’s tell everyone they are going to be buried in an avalanche and see how our ratings quadruple.”

Of course, the prediction of snow translates to a “to do” list for me. Get the sleds out of the garage attic. Get the snow boots and shovel ready. Check the fridge for comfort food.  

Michelle immediately jumps into “mom mode,” which means she has to plan a grocery run. On days such as this, she tries to go early in the morning or late at night, planning her jaunt through the aisles with precision.  

I remember once she barely made it home before the snow began to fall, and we were all relieved when she pulled into the garage as the large, maybe toxic snowflakes began to fall.

Teachers view snow days differently than most.  To us, it’s a surprise respite or a chance to catch up on schoolwork. I always make sure I take extra materials home with me when a snow day is predicted.

I once sat grading papers on a snow day and decided to email one of my students about missing an assignment.  

“I thought this was a snow day,” was the reply from the student.

These days, everyone gets a “robo” call with a recorded voice telling us there will be no school today or tomorrow.  Teachers, parents and kids get the same call.

In the old days, we had a “snow tree,” in which all of the employees of the school district called one another in the wee hours of the morning.

There was never a better sound than my phone ringing at 5:20 a.m. and the groggy voice on the other end saying in a sleepily cheery tone, “Mark, no school!”

I would immediately turn my phone off after I got the call. You see, there were always people who were friends, yet also parents of our school district, who thought it was OK to call teachers at 5:30 a.m. and ask if there was school.  

It was easier than turning on the television and waiting for the school to scroll by on the school closing strip at the bottom of Channel 2.

I bemoaned this occurrence to my mentor, also known as our school secretary, and told her how I felt taken advantage of.

“Next time they call, ask them if they own a radio or television. They won’t call you again,” she replied.

Good one, Shirley.  One of many great tips she gave me in my early years of teaching.

We had another staff member who was very good at predicting weather. She would be helpful on days when the weather folks were hyping us all up.

If she didn’t think the predicted “storm” would amount to much, she’d wave it off and tell us not to be concerned or disappointed. If she knew indeed there would be significant accumulation, she’d stroll past our doors at dismissal and say something like “I will see you in a couple of days.”

She was like a walking Farmer’s Almanac.

My students would talk about strange practices if a snow storm were predicted.  We’d of course do a snow dance at school, but kids would talk about wearing their clothes backwards – especially their pajamas.

I’ve been in interesting circumstances when a snow day was called.  

Once, I was finishing up an after school workshop when the custodian came by and whispered to me that school was going to be called off the next day. Only the custodial crew knew at that time, as some freezing precipitation began to fall. They were charged with taking care of things for an early evening basketball game.  

I felt as if I had received top secret information.

There were a couple of times I was at the gym in the early morning as the school closings scrolled by on the workout room television. Such news gave me added stamina and I think I worked out a little harder, suddenly relieved of the need to get home quickly.

We once moved to another house in the middle of a snowstorm, and when we found out that evening there was no school the next day, we flopped onto our recently unloaded mattress with blankets we’d dug out of a moving box.  

We slept like logs.

Perhaps the funniest story I ever heard was of a teacher who lived a few towns away that had decided to come to school very early one morning.  I’m pretty sure this teacher had arrived around 5 a.m. or earlier, simply to get on top of a mountain of schoolwork or prepare for the week.  

Anyway, this teacher was in the quiet school building for a good portion of the early morning and suddenly realized there was an absence of activity.  There were no employees coming in. He only realized there was a snow day when he called home. 

Obviously, this was a few years before cell phones became a thing.

Even though I really like getting out of school on a respectable day in May, I still get excited and enjoy snow days.  

So, tonight, I will do my usual snow dance and make sure the coffee pot is ready to go.

Wearing my pajamas backwards may create complications, so I think I’ll just settle for the dance.

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Mark Tullis

Mark is a 25-year veteran teacher teaching in Columbia. Originally from Fairfield, Mark is married with four children. He enjoys reading, writing, and spending time with his family, and has been involved in various aspects of professional and community theater for many years and enjoys appearing in local productions. Mark has also written a "slice of life" style column for the Republic-Times since 2007.
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