Painful Truth: We’re better off with snow days

We need to start having snow days more often.

Monday, my normal 10-minute commute to the office took about 40 minutes. Admittedly, about 10 minutes of that was me trying to take an alternate route, and discovering that A) it was even more jammed up with cars than the main roads and B) that the road was a sheet of solid ice.

I turned back, and crawled to work. About one in 20 of the cars I drove past were coated in snow – the windshields brushed half-clear by wiper blades, while side and rear windows, lights, and licence plates were still coated.

We’re bad at snow, basically.

I’m including myself here. I was born and raised on the Wet Coast, and while I think I might be an average driver in the snow (for Metro Vancouver values of “average”) I’ve had a few close calls throug the years.

The worst was when I was a teenager, still driving my first car. I was driving up the winding stretch of 56th Avenue known as Snake Hill. It had been snowing steadily for a few hours, the flakes small and fine and powdery.

Halfway up the hill, I started to slide sideways. Brake and gas pedal did nothing. I slid to the edge of the drop off. One rear tire hopped up on the low curb – and I stopped. I was none the worse for wear, though my adrenal glands got a good workout.

Did you know that in some Nordic countries, drivers have to prove they have winter driving skills before they get their licences?

Not here. Nor do many people know how to shovel snow (NOT into the road, never ever ever) or to get a stuck car moving, or what kind of emergency equipment to pack in a vehicle.

Our institutions aren’t designed to deal with snow, either. We get large amounts so rarely that we’re reluctant to pay for the huge numbers of snowplows that are required when a big blizzard hits.

So… maybe we should deal with snow by not dealing with it quite so much.

We’re reluctant right now to close schools, and of course, very few bosses want to give their employees a day off.

But if we’re not willing or able to learn how to deal properly with snow (and I see no indication of that happening) maybe we should take a few snow days when things are bad.

Close the schools, if only for a day, shutter a few shops, and let things go still and quiet. Wait. It’s the coast. It’ll rain soon anyway.


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