Snow day

March 2, 2011, 10:00 AM UTC

Which takes more bravery? Going to work in spite of the weather, or staying home in spite of the scorn?

Oh, lord.  Snowing again. Trains will be a mess. Buses will fail to appear. Bob will be in, though. Bob is always in. Bob lives a quarter-mile from the office in a penthouse the size of Versailles and is driven to work in a carriage drawn by Lipizzaners — why shouldn’t he come in? Also, he’s non-fungible, Bob is. If he doesn’t appear at the office, business will cease. That’s why he makes the big bucks.

That’s the nub of it, laid bare by the storm. There are those who must come in … and those whose presence is not truly required. Let’s pursue that for a moment. How often do you want the boss to realize that when you are not on the job, everything of import can continue unabated? That’s a rhetorical question. The answer is never. You want him to think the opposite — “Thank God Bing is here!”

Then there’s the issue of Brod. Brod lives in the wilds of suburbia, far from the madding hurly-burly. One might say his situation was bucolic, except that Brod is never home. Rain, shine, or blizzard, Ed Brod rises before the worms put on their flak jackets. He scrapes his face, tightens his sphincter, and heads for the office, almost two hours away by train. When the rails are frozen, he climbs into his modest Subaru and slowly makes his way into town, where he mans his turret. He does not depart until the moon is high in the sky. So Brod will be at the office today, in spite of the nine inches of white stuff now blanketing the metropolitan area. “Ed’s here,” Bob will say when I call in. “But I guess he only has to come from frickin’ Maryland.”

And let’s consider the macho factor. The jungle we work in is run by big, tough gorillas with hair on their knuckles. They are not bothered by a little snow. “When I was a boy in Chicago,” Bob will say, “we used to walk to school in snow up to our belly buttons.” Of course, belly buttons were lower then, but that’s beside the point. These days people freak out a lot worse than they used to about a little bit of snow. London twisted its knickers for a week this year over less than six inches of the stuff. Washington and Baltimore run around screaming like little girls every time they get a light dusting. Do I want to be one of those weenies? I think not!

Anyway, I can’t afford to miss a day. There’s the Kreeger document that has to be circulated, and the Needleman material that needs revision. Let’s tear ourselves away from this frosty window and head off into the wild!

Just look at it snow, though. Pretty pretty snow. When I was a little boy a day like this was a source of celebration. Mr. Weatherbee would wait until the last moment and then grudgingly call off the school day. I would have cocoa with a marshmallow in it. Then my mom would bundle me up in a ridiculous padded outfit and throw me out of doors to make snow angels on the lawn. There was no freedom like the feeling that God had wrested control of the universe, if only for one day, from the corporate powers that ran my tiny life.

There’s cocoa in the cabinet, I think.

I should dress. Put on my boots, my shoes in a bag. It would take me at least an hour to get to the office, of course. Maybe longer. Not everything has been plowed. Big waste of time, really. How much more could I get done if I just hunkered down and, you know, worked from home? I have my BlackBerry. I have my computer. But do I have the guts?

Who has more courage? The grownup who goes to work because he fears authority and is mindful of the consequences? Or the child who accepts the judgment of the elements and stays home? In fact, how long has it been since I’ve had a grilled cheese sandwich and a bowl of tomato soup and watched one snowflake chase another across the raging sky? Too long, I say! What am I? A man or a mouse?

Oh, the hell with it. I’m going in.