Opinion – 2/28/2003

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 28, 2003

The Panolian Editorial

For additional opinions and articles,
pick up the 2/21/03  issue of The Panolian

Winter Weather Can Bring Things to Near Standstill

One would have thought the North Pole fell on Batesville earlier this week the way some folks acted.

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Of course, a spit or two of snow and some ice can scare the dickens out of those who aren’t used to it.

Schools in three states shut down and I know for a fact lots of grownups stayed home from work.

Frankly, I didn’t get it. But, I’ve lived where it really snows. Like north of St. Louis, the Appalachian mountains and in the northern Texas Panhandle.

But, I grew up in the Mid-South and understand that school closes and cities and counties can’t afford to invest in lots of snow removal equipment that will sit idle most of the time.

And, with no snow days taken by local schools before this week, why not? I’m suspecting some are built into the calendar.

Our school in Joiner, Ark., would close, too, when I was little but somehow we could always get to the levee for a bit of sledding — on trays or maybe on a car hood. One family who lived at the foot of the levee had real sleds they’d let us use.

The weather this week did wreck havoc on lots of moms and dads and turned many a business into one with children hanging around for the day.

That can be ok every now and then … given that the youngsters are made to behave and don’t act like heathens.

At The Panolian, I must say, the youngsters who come here range from pretty well to extremely well behaved.

And, these days, one certainly can’t ask for more given the number of smart mouth – and smart acting – youngsters I’ve run across in my time.

But, I digress. Back to snow.

I talked to one fellow who had lived "up north" who told me he’d never missed a day of work on account of bad weather.

Then he took it back. He did miss one day.

"I could have gone," he said. "But I looked out and said, "to heck with it."

That, I suspect was the case of many of those who didn’t make it to work on Tuesday.

They could have made it, just opted not to.

When I went to eat lunch that day at a local restaurant, I asked the server if they had many employees who didn’t show up.

She said yes, especially early.

"The managers had to serve breakfast," she said with a smile, "And they made $35 in tips!"

But my favorite snow story came a few months after I moved to North Carolina not too far from Charlotte.

That part of the state rarely got snow and when it did, people freaked out. Much more so even than here.

One afternoon Brenda, a member of the composing room staff, told me we needed to let the employees go home.

"Why?" I asked.

"Because it’s snowing," Brenda said.

I stuck my head out the back door. Sure enough, there were some snowflakes floating down. They were melting as soon as they hit the ground.

"It’s barely snowing," I told her. "If it starts to get bad, we can go home."

She stood there. Looking at me for a moment before she spoke.

"You just don’t understand," she said.

This can’t be good, I thought before asking … "Just what is it that I don’t understand?"

"Stanly County women don’t drive in the snow," she said emphatically.

A few minutes later I picked up the phone to call a friend at his law office.

I told Bob what had happened and he hooted.

"You dummy," he said. "She’s exactly right." And to prove it, he added, " … all of our secretaries are already gone."

… Buying up all the bread, milk and junk food, no doubt.

(Kate Dickson can be reached by email at: editor@panolian.com)