Snowpocalypse 2011 – Man Up or Wimp Out?

Last Tuesday, the day before the Detroit area was to receive a major blizzard, I asked my husband if he intended to go to work the next day.  After he glared at me with a withering look, he answered, “We’ll see.”  His withering look and dismissive answer told me how foolish the question really was.  I have lived with him for almost 25 years, worked at his food processing business for over 10 years, so I should have known this without asking: you don’t close the business for weather.

That’s not to say that he would never close the business for a weather related emergency, hence the cryptic “we’ll see.”  His point was that a true weather emergency is, by definition, sudden and unexpected.  If Wednesday came and there was no way to drive the 25 miles to get to work, then he would decide not to go.  Deciding not to work in advance does not, in his opinion, make good business sense.

His attitude got me thinking about my long work experience and the days when the phrase “snow day” didn’t even exist.  I remembered the Great Blizzard of 1978 and specifically recalled one of my fellow police officers calling the station and saying, “I can walk up to Ford Road if someone can get to me and pick me up.”  That is exactly how he got to work when he couldn’t get his car out of his driveway.  In other words, he sucked it up and went to work. So did the rest of us.  No excuses, and, more importantly, no expectations that it should be any different.

Of course I understand that sometimes weather emergencies are so bad that people should not risk their safety for their job. Hurricanes or tsunamis come to mind.  My point is that it’s pretty difficult to tell a full day in advance, particularly with snow, if the weather is going to create that type of a risk.  Before Snowpocalypse 2011 even arrived, though, people were fully expecting to take the day off.  Many businesses announced on Monday – two full days in advance – that they were going to close.

Maybe the reason that Ford Motor Company didn’t need to be bailed out by the government (unlike GM and Chrysler), and is now posting record profits, is that they make careful and sensible business decisions, like not canceling production solely on a weather prediction.  People got to work safely last Wednesday, even if they were a little late. (My husband got to work in one hour, which is about 20 extra minutes.)  If half of the Ford workforce “didn’t show up”, as this man posted on Facebook, perhaps FoMoCo will decide that they don’t need that many workers after all.  That certainly wouldn’t help any employees.

Tell me what you think!  Is it in the best interest of workers if companies cancel the work day for snow or other weather related emergencies?  Should it be done in advance, or should a company wait until the full effects of the emergency are known?

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