Snow Day Suspense

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy twitter, email and school app notifications dinged on my phone around 8:30  last night alerting me to Wednesday’s school closing due inclement weather. My daughter, husband, who is traveling in Miami, and even my son, at college in North Carolina, received the closure alert at the exact same time.  Instant access to the most current information is both expected and counted on by most of us these days. The internet has minimized the sense of anticipation and excitement generated when we must wait for information to transmit from person to person.

Flashback over 40 years ago: The landline phone rings in our dark house at 5 a.m., waking my mom, an elementary school teacher, from a sound sleep. Outside the lone street-light casts a golden glow on the freshly fallen snow. My mom’s colleague calls to announce that her rural school district, Lapeer, is cancelled due to dangerous driving conditions created by the overnight snowstorm.  (Whenever my mom’s school needed to disseminate important information quickly, the superintendent called four employees who in turn called four employees and so on. Phone calling trees were common and important networks of communication back when I was a kid.) I emerge into the kitchen from my bedroom, just as my mom completes her fourth and final phone call.  

She looks up at me. “Don’t worry.  I’m sure Davison Schools will be cancelled, too.”

Unlike my mom, I must wait and listen to the radio for the school cancellation announcements. Our local AM radio station reads the school closings list in alphabetical order, approximately every 15 minutes. “Atherton, Grand Blanc, Fenton….”  To my dismay, Davison, is not included in the 6:30 a.m. school closing update. My mom gives me a sympathetic hug and crawls back into bed.  She tells me to wake her 30 minutes before I leave for school.

I continue to listen to the radio station while I shower. I listen when I dress and eat my breakfast. And I listen when I brush my teeth and hair.  By the 7 a.m. broadcast, “Flushing and North Branch schools” have been added to the school closing list. Now, the winter sun is breaking over the horizon, revealing six inches of freshly fallen snow.  Disheartened that I will have to attend school on a day when seemingly all other area schools are closed, I torture myself with images of kids sledding down Hogback Hill, screaming and laughing without me. Frustration simmers. I close the cupboards a little louder and stomp around the kitchen with force until Mom appears in the kitchen and helps me make my lunch.  She suggests we listen to the school closing update one final time after I dress out for the long walk to school.

I tiptoe around the melted snow puddles in an effort to keep my socks dry; step into and lace up my black snow boots; zip my fur-lined parka, snapping the hood tightly around my neck; and jam my hands into my gloves.

“Amy, 108.5 is about to read the school closing list,” Mom announces from the kitchen.

My snowpants make a swish-swish sound as I briskly return to the kitchen, my fingers crossed for good luck.

I hear the DJ say, “We have two new school closing that have just been added to our list:  (long pause) Clio and Davison.”

“Yeah!” I shout in elation. I jump up in the air, barely able to lift myself off the ground given all of the layers I wear. The long drawn out suspense of the morning feels worth the short term frustration.

I turn and run outside to celebrate the snow.


11 thoughts on “Snow Day Suspense

  1. I remember those phone trees. I would roll over in bed to answer the phone, then dig on my bedside table for the phone number of the person under me on the list. I love your story of waiting and waiting until your school finally got called! What a sign of the times that your mother went back to bed and told you to wake her 30 minutes before you had to leave! And I love the description you give of imagining other kids getting a snow day but not you. What a fun story!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh my goodness, I remember all of this. From making phone calls on our county phone tree the first four years I taught, to being a kid and listening to the radio and television desperately, waiting for the news of a cancellation or delay when I was in school. Such vivid details in what you wrote here! It is crazy to think how much our world has changed in 20 years (less, really)!

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  3. What an enjoyable flashback story. I loved the simplicity of the days before all of the instant gratification smart phones and internet sources provide. You did a wonderful job building the suspense in this story as I was hoping you would hear your school, but wasn’t sure if it would really happen. Snow is lightly falling here…think the track has shifted so much uncertainty abounds!

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  4. This is such a fabulous story, drawing the reader in with great anticipation as well as a connection to the main character (you!), hoping for the best. And it is so true-to-life as to how things used to be. I hope you were able to sled on Hogback Hill that day!

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  5. I found myself racing through your post so I could know if you got out of school or not! I love this slice. It described that old school snow day feeling. Nice job of bringing us all into that moment!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. We still do the phone tree at my school, even though we’re all on Facebook and constantly checking the school district webpage. What a wonderful slice of your snow day back in the day.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Seriously beautiful, from start to finish. One of my favorites, “My snowpants make a swish-swish sound as I briskly return to the kitchen, my fingers crossed for good luck.” Thanks for bringing me right into your kitchen for the good news!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I love everything about this post. I found myself holding my breath at the end, waiting for the announcement myself. Thank you for taking us back to a simpler time and letting us feel excited like a little kid again.

    Liked by 1 person

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