snow days in the South…
I’m a midwesterner and have spent the last thirteen years on the southern side of the Mason-Dixon line. I’ve been in Nashville the last seven. Like other northern expats, I’ve made fun of how the people down here respond to snow, how ironic it is that NASCAR fans can’t drive in precipitation, and expressed general snarkiness regarding the sometimes comedic outcomes of the (really mild) winters down here. I’d be typing some snarktastic essay about our current “snowjam,” except..
I’m starting to realize why this community is so cancel-happy every winter.
One one hand, gravel driveways and roads are nearly impassable in slush. In a further vein, winter temps are so rare here, not all families have appropriate winter coats and whatnot for their kids. (what school superintendent wants to send kindergartners to bus stops in 30 degree weather in a soccer jacket?) Additonally, we don’t have the equipment.
But none of those reasons account for canceling non-proft board meetings, art openings, or other “adults going adulting” type events. We’ll cancel that, too. A day early just to be safe. School’s been cancelled for the next three days. Yesterday, our mayor asked businesses to be closed today. All this over a snow storm that would be a punch line in Wisconsin but…
Right now, nearly every family in Metro Nashville is home together, baking cookies, building snowmen, and playing boardgames.
And its kind of nice.
Its this tradition that puts the bias on “nope, let’s just cancel it.”
People here do not see a brutal two-hour slog-through-Hoth commute as a heroic civic duty. In the value system down here, its not worth the effort. When faced with a choice between that or a day/evening home with their kids, they head to the pantry for a box of brownies.
These differening responses to snow are a reflection of the difference between the economic bases. You’ll hear more about this from me in future rural/urban essays. The north is more industrialized, and over generations, factory owners worked with government (public transit) to enable residents to be able to get to work. By contrast, the south is overwhelmingly agrarian, and while the farms and companies were large, they were also run by families.
In Chicago, they’d never cancel a youth soccer tournament over 1/2" of snow, just to keep to the schedule. We’d cancel it a day or two early on the forecast alone.
It may be as simple as “you can’t farm in a snow storm” vs. “the assembly line stops for no man. get here or you’re fired.”
I never really think about the number of elements that have to be coordinated to ensure that a whole community can get places. Here, you just can’t be sure all the roads you need will be good to go. “I’m sure it will be fine” really only applies to the expressways and urban core. The community down here is just fine cancelling it. Also, it should be noted that these situtations total to fewer than 5 work days a year, typically. It’ll be 60 degrees here next week probably, and we can have all the band concerts, art openings and soccer tournaments we can handle.