When a winter storm sweeps across Maine, one that is nasty enough that driving is dangerous, Maine takes a snow day. Quite civilized, doncha think?
Mainers know a day off from the rigid routine of required places to go and things to do when they see one. They know they’ve been awarded a snow day before the announcement of school closings, before the municipal governments announce that it is illegal to park a car on the city streets overnight. They know long before the roll of closings flips across the bottom line of the news programs.
If they have an appointment and feel it is too scary to drive, they simply call and cancel without penalty. They don’t put themselves in danger even it means missing the only opening with their fave hair stylist for weeks, or their library books are due, or for surgery. No penalty. No foul.
This means a lot less work for the tow trucks extracting people from ditches they skidded into, less work for the auto body repairs guys, less work for the rescue police. Roads get plowed more quickly because the plows dodge fewer obstructions. Life gets back on track sooner with less injury to people and property.
Mainers do not waste the gift of an unexpected day off. They curl up in front of their fireplace and finish the book, they make soup, they catch up on email, and phone calls, they watch daytime soaps.
Snow days are so built into the culture that schools schedule extra days to plan for unexpected interruptions. Unneeded days are credited, and the school year finishes ahead of time .
Wouldn’t it be nice if California could schedule Earthquake Days; Florida, Hurricane days; Japan, Tsunami Days?
And, in Maine for a few hours on snow days, the whole outdoors is staged by Currier and Ives.