Too Many Snow Days by Sharon O’Donnell
Okay Mother Nature, enough is enough. Our city here in the South is not prepared to keep getting hit with snow and ice. We’ve already gone over the 32 Million dollar budget that Raleigh earmarks for winter weather emergencies. The schools have already been shut down for six days in the past few weeks, meaning lots of students have lost much of their spring break vacation days or, in the case of year-round school students, they’ve had to make-up lost time on Saturdays. The new Bass Pro Shop that is near my house was supposed to have its grand opening this past Wednesday, but they had to cancel the big plans when we got six inches of snow; I think they did this to let the local people have a look on a Wednesday before people from all the surrounding counties came out on the following weekend. So since there was no grand opening and bad roads have kept people inside the past few days, everyone is venturing out to Bass Pro Shops today, meaning the traffic near my house coming off the Interstate is ridiculous. I don’t dare go there today myself or even decide to frequent one of our regular restaurants there because the parking lot is packed with people driving around looking for places to park.
On the day the snow started to fall, Raleigh and my suburb of Cary definitely had our share of bad roads and traffic problems. Nothing like what happened in Atlanta in late January, but it still took some people over six hours to drive the 20 minutes it would normally take. The schools, thank goodness, had been cancelled beforehand, a lesson we learned in 2005 when Raleigh made the national news because of something similar to what happened in Atlanta; traffic on the major routes was at a standstill, and some children had to sleep at school. So this time around things weren’t nearly as bad, although there were still many abandoned cars.
This time, however, I was out in the snow soon after it started. People on Facebook were wondering why people didn’t heed the warnings of the impending storm and stay at home; but, the weather forecast was not very specific, and the radar showed that the system was in Fayetteville — about an hour and a half away — at 11:00. Thus, my hairdresser and I decided to go ahead with my 11:30 appointment since we knew that even when the snow started, there would still be ample time to get home. After all, I started back to work the following week after being tracked out of school — a break filled with bad weather — and wouldn’t have time to arrange an appointment after school started. The client before me was running a little late, so we got started with highlights and cut around 11:45. At 12:15, her husband came to the shop, saying that it had already started snowing, and he was there to drive her home so she didn’t have to drive her car. But in all the other North Carolina snow storms I’d seen in my 51 years of living there, it would snow for a while before there was ever any accumulation.
Not this storm. It started sticking quickly, and it was obvious that time was of the essence. “Don’t worry about drying my hair,” I told my hairdresser. “I’ll just go out with it wet.”
“Are you sure?” she asked.
“Absolutely,” I said, as I looked at the concerned face of her husband who was keeping an eye on the accumulation in the parking lot. So, I went out of there with my naturally curly hair wet, which meant it would frizz on the way home. Right then the top of my head looked like a Cocker Spaniel . I made my way out of the parking lot as the snow continued to fall. I was about 15 minutes from home, a straight shot on a secondary right and then through downtown and out toward the interstate. But I knew as soon as I pulled out onto the road, that it would be very slow going. My tires slid as I pulled into traffic, that was backed up for a long way, as far as my eyes could see due to the clouds and low visibility. I just had to remain patient and drive slowly and carefully. There were lots of stoplights on the road, and stopping and starting were the hardest things to do in this weather. A few times my car slid or another car would slide near me. I soon realized it was not just about getting home as soon as I could — it was about not having an accident. I was so on guard that my shoulders were tense. What usually took me five minutes to drive was taking more like 20 minutes, and I was praying that we would all be safe.
In the meantime, my hair — my naturally curly hair — was drying. And the thing I thought most about was – I admit — that if I was involved in an accident, then I would be expected to get out of the car. And there was NO WAY I would get out of the car now. My Cocker Spaniel-looking hair now was extremely frizzy and sat high up on my head. A Cocker Spaniel with a bad perm. Of course I didn’t want to get hurt in an accident, but I didn’t want one of those little fender benders either that would require me to step outside. I began to regret my decision of keeping this appointment this morning. I didn’t even have a coat that had a hood. If I got out of that car due to an accident, I was pretty sure I might frighten people — or at the very least be a distraction for drivers as they stared. I’m not exaggerating here, folks.
Alas, there were no accidents. Everybody drove carefully, and I was glad to get home – even though my drive had been longer than usual (40 minutes instead of 15). When I walked into the house, my 13-year-old son took one look at me and laughed hysterically. “I know, I know,” I said. My husband knew better than to say anything.
No, we don’t need any more snow days, Mother Nature. It’s supposed to be 75 here by the weekend, so it’s nice to see such signs of spring.