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Overcompensation

4

I’m looking out the window at mostly empty streets. The air temperature is not yet above freezing, but there are now puddles where there was ice overnight. Schools are closed again today; Ms. Ginger will not need to maneuver her bus through these hilly streets, holding her breath and praying for the safe delivery of her cargo, our children.

winter storm 2015

The dog goes out to take care of her business and I stand at the front door, examining the thin layer of wet snow and remembering last year. The crunching noise her paws make as she runs to her favorite spot are a faint echo of the sound of D’s van rolling into my neighbor’s SUV, parked there because even drivers of heavy cars and trucks found the hill impassable.

five collided cars street view webI remember D describing his desperate attempt to drive past the wreckage on my lawn. After hours of crawling through highway traffic, he arrived at the top of the hill at 11:00 p.m. and stopped the car. His 2-year old daughter was still at school, less than ½ mile away, waiting for a parent to take her home.

Seeing the abandoned cars lining both sides of the street and believing he could slide between them, he eased his foot off the brake pedal and began to coast. D knew his daughter was already asleep; he wanted to be there when she woke up the next morning.

I remember D’s friend telling me that D stayed in his car for about an hour after it slid to a stop and hit the SUV on my lawn. He didn’t want to ring our doorbell and disturb us so late at night.

When it got too cold to wait any longer, he walked the last leg of his journey—stopping at The Home Depot for several hours to get warm—to be at school before sunrise to greet his daughter.

Last year, the city, county and state officials underestimated the weather.  To our peril.

This year, they are likely overcompensating—closing school at every prediction of snow—to ensure our safety. I’m stymied by the angry response to this overcompensation. Why would I complain or condemn school officials on Facebook? I would rather watch the snow melt while my kids sleep, safe and warm in their beds, knowing that a few miles north of here D is probably doing the same thing.

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Comments (4)

I have to agree, even as we have day #4 of “no snow left, no ice to speak of.” Ironically, on the day it was actually snowing (and there was ice, I understand), there WAS school. Very odd, and disconcerting. One wonders how these decisions are made, and why a two-hour delay doesn’t solve a lot of the problems. Like you, I am sticking to my belief that it’s “better to be safe than sorry.” Only one person injured (or worse) due to unsafe conditions is too many.

First, I have to quote Rabbi Josh Lesser, who shared this insight on FB: “The lampooning of our lack of snow days belies, I believe a real desire for certainty in our lives. The weather teaches us time and time again that nature and our lives may have predictability but rarely are we ensured certainty.” He’s so wise. The weather is predictable ONLY to a certain extent.

In addition, I think parents who are frustrated need to remember that the early hours of the morning–when teachers, bus drivers, school cafeteria workers need to leave their homes in the dark before sunrise, when it’s COLDEST time of day in ATL–road conditions may be worse than after sunrise when the school day begins. Our sprawling county includes points farther north where it was icy in the morning and there is no means for dealing with icy roads in neighborhoods. Also, it’s apparently much more complicated to have a delayed opening than a day off, for legal reasons that include the school being required to serve hot lunch for students on assistance. Some parents posting to FB groups, such as East Cobb Snobs, don’t seem to realize how their complaints about being inconvenienced appear when there are children in our school district who may be going hungry because school is closed.

I understand and agree 100%. Yesterday, I found myself suffering from PTSD (which could also be translated as Post Traumatic Snow Day) – in which I stayed clear of driving because it MIGHT get bad. I was, of course, flashing back to two days: The first, when I spent 9.5 hours in my car, getting kids from school, then finally stopping in Dunwoody because I couldn’t make it the additional several hours to Roswell. And the next, a couple of weeks later, when I looked outside and thought, “Rain! This is just rain! I can make it to Decatur.” And I discovered that when signs say “Bridge ices before road,” they aren’t kidding; I still freak out a bit on that bridge to Freedom Parkway, reliving the sensation of my car sliding then spinning on the ice.

I consider this week a trial-run of the DOT’s new “Brine-then-salt/sand” process, which they did when all the schools were closed early this week. I’m glad they were able to do it for the first time when there wasn’t an actual emergency.

After we were rear-ended and the van was totaled, despite having walked away with no injuries, I was paralyzed by fear and felt my heart-rate soar whenever I got behind the wheel with the kids in the car. I still feel a fleeting sense of dread whenever I have to drive through the intersection of D&D (doom & destruction, as we call it) in the rain. These near-miss experiences stay with us for a long time and inform our decisions. I would certainly rather we are all more cautious, even if it turns out that we are overcautious, than paralyzed or worse by real injury.

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