It’s a chilling thought. An article in the New York Times said it, but we were all thinking it. Snow days may well have become another victim of Covid-19. No, it’s not snowing yet (but give climate change a chance!), but New York City schools have figured out that if students can learn from home then one of the truly treasured memories of our youth may no longer be necessary. In fact, snow days ended for me when I began working remotely. My supervisor had suggested, even before that, that I take my company laptop home daily, in case of inclement weather. The idea of awaking, wonder-eyed, at the world covered in white—that cozy feeling of knowing you had no obligations for the day but to enjoy the pristine world out your window—is a thing of the past.
Technology has changed our lives, and some of it is even for the better. It hasn’t made work easier for some of us, but has made it longer. We used to talk about kids and their continuous partial attention, but now work is always at home with you and that time signature on your email says something about your work habits. As the days are now shorter than the nights, as they will be for six more months, finding the time to do what you must outdoors (it may be cooler, but lawns still insist on growing) is always a bit more of a challenge. And when the snow does fall you’ll still have to shovel the walk. All time has become company time for a truly linked-in world.
The real victim here, it seems to me, is childhood. Snow days were a reminder that no matter how strict, how Calvinistic our administrators wanted to be, the weather could still give us a smile now and then. A legitimate excuse not to have to go to school and, if parents couldn’t get you to daycare, a day off for everyone. The strict number of limited holidays allotted by HR had limited power in those days. Although we all know that well-rested, happy workers tend to do better jobs than those who are constantly stressed out and who have trouble sleeping, we’ve now got the means to make the sameness of pandemic life the ennui of everyday life, in saecula saeculorum. Thanks, internet. At least now we work where we have a window and can look out on nature and can see what we’re missing.