Snow Days and Technology

The end of a year is drawing near, so inevitably I feel the need to brush off my blog and start rambling again to anyone who’s still listening. Considering I always say I like to write and blog, you’d think I’d do it more frequently.

Now, at 11pm at night, I have the urge to update, an urge borne of sleeplessness resulting from an afternoon nap and too much Mountain Dew. This is what I get for ignoring consequences. And while others are waiting for the end of the world (which may or may not happen in an hour…and I’m leaning heavily towards may not), my topic is way less exciting.

Today, I took a snow day.

Since I haven’t blogged here in awhile, I should mention…in case I haven’t already…that J. Felbs and I moved at the beginning of summer to a small town about twenty minutes away from where we work and go to school. The commute hasn’t been bad and I like living in a small, quiet town much more than living in the louder college town. However, winter weather was something we knew we’d eventually have to tackle.

Snow came through last night and it had already been determined that if roads were bad, people could use their judgement to stay home. And I started thinking about how things have changed between now and when I used to work and go to school in Michigan. Some of it has to do with my age, some of it with the fact that I’ve passed some time in an area that doesn’t get as much snow as the UP. Some of it has to do with technology.

Back then, I’d listen for the weather report on the TV or radio. If school wasn’t called off or work closed, I just went, braving the roads, driving slowly without a cell phone, walking carefully on the ice. Sure, I’d complain about it all day long, but there never seemed to be another option unless I wanted an absence (school) or loss of pay and an irate manager and co-workers (job).

Now, I can get online and check the weather and the road conditions. I can message and email friends to see how the roads are. I can read other Tweets in the area to gauge what’s going on. If I venture out, I’m armed with my cell phone, and I text when I leave and when I arrive so friends and family know I’m safe. If applicable, I can work from home.

Which is what I did. And it worked out okay, but it felt weird. When we lived in the larger town, a snow day wasn’t a huge issue since everything was only five minutes away. But this morning I was scared to drive the twenty minutes on the highway without doing all kinds of research on what was going on out there. Even after I got several pieces of informational feedback, I waited for it to get light and then I tried to venture out only to be thwarted by the ice on the outside stairs. While there was a time when this too would have been defeated, it got the best of me. I went back in, turned on the computer, and proceeded to take full advantage of the joys of technology and telecommuting.

I’ve seen memes and posts that insinuate how much better people were for surviving those times without internet and cell phones, and of course I “Like” them or “Retweet” them if they’re particularly clever. I’ve been known to get my own pretentious on about living in Michigan where a little snow never frightened us, not like it does down here where people aren’t “one with the snow.”

But to be completely honest, I like the current way of things. I like having all the info, I like the security of having my cell phone with me wherever I go, and I like knowing that I can work offsite and still be productive when it’s needed. I know not everyone has that with their job, but even taking into account the access to more information and the ability to make better decisions about staying or going is definite progress from the early morning weather updates and school closing lists from my youth.

I do hope, however, to be able to get out tomorrow, because I haven’t progressed enough to beat cabin fever.

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