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To Commute or Not to Commute: A Snow Day Conundrum

As a kid, snow meant no school and frolicking all day in white powder. As an adult, it meant a stressful catastrophe. I could never afford a snow-capable vehicle, like a truck or SUV, which made adult snow days even more hellish for me. It didn’t matter if conditions were especially bad, I still had to make it into work. In this prehistoric time before the remote work option, I remember driving to work terrified when it snowed. Risking financial disaster for a job that didn’t pay me enough to survive said disaster. Gripping my steering wheel like my life depended on how strong I squeezed the fake leather. Promising whatever God I was into at the time that I’d stop sinning. A promise I’d break within an hour of being in the office.

But the commute home from work would be worse. Not only was it pitch black outside, but now it was colder, making the drive even more dangerous. Especially when most of the roads I traveled on remained unplowed. Slipping and sliding my way home, sometimes hoping I’d glide right off an overpass, ending it all.

One shitty December morning a blizzard parked its fat ass right over Philadelphia. Work wasn’t cancelled. At least not for me. I worked full-time for $10 an hour at a marketing agency. It was the only place that would hire a recent college graduate. Between the terrible job market in 2013 and my lack of experience, I had to take the job despite the office being an hour from where I lived. Most of my paycheck went to gas.

But on this terrible, snowy December morning I sat in bed debating if I should call out of work. An hour-long commute meant at least a two-hour drive in the snow. I had an old Honda Civic, like late nineties old, at the time. Driving that car in the snow was like squeezing a wet bar of soap. If I attempted to car ski to work, it would be almost a certainty that I ended up in an accident.

The news reports showed crashes all over the Tri-state area. School closings scrolled across the bottom of the TV screen. News anchors begged people to stay home.

Blizzard or not, people needed their marketing, which meant I had to get into the office.

I checked my email and cell phone.

No call from my boss suggesting I take the day off.

No emails telling me not to come into the office.

I opened my bedroom window. It was bone-chilling cold. My neighbor’s house was hard to see through the falling snow and howling wind. I called my father to ask for his advice on this dire situation.

“How many hours do you work a day?” my father asked.

“Eight.”

“How much do you make in a day?”

“Huh?” I asked.

“How much do you make an hour?”

“Ten bucks,” I said.

“That’s a hundred dollars a day.”

His math was impeccable.

“Is it worth a hundred bucks to risk totaling your car?”

Yet, somehow, my father had a lot of wisdom.

I sent a text to my boss and informed her I wouldn’t be able to make it into the office. I returned to my bed and wrapped myself in blankets for an old-fashioned snow day nap.

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