You may have heard a fairly substantial snowfall swept through the southeast Tuesday dropping anywhere from 1-3 inches of snow in greater Atlanta where I live. For those of you living in a mountain region in the west or north of the Mason-Dixon line in the east it’s OK to scoff. I grew up in Ohio so I know a major snowstorm when I see one.
This wasn’t it.
Except for Southerners it is. We simply don’t have the equipment to deal with the road conditions as they deteriorate.
Few salt trucks.
Still fewer drivers with experience in snowy road conditions.
This storm left many motorists stranded and children stuck at school throughout the night. Many roadways are still a parking lot this morning, as ice developed overnight in the below 20 degree weather.
There is a wide range of emotions produced on a days like this. I’ve noticed that which one people express depends on their situation and who they are. Furthermore, and more importantly, how people deal with the situation and handle their emotions may influence how they view the outcome of the entire day.
Emotion 1: Panic
Panicky people come in two sizes: pre-panic and post-panic
The pre-panickers were geared up for this storm on Sunday. They were planning in advance, making their checklist of everything that had to happen before Tuesday at noon when the snow was scheduled to hit. The list included topping the car off with gas and going to the grocery store to wipe out the bread and milk aisles as they stocked up for our two-day snow event. (The temperatures will be back in the 50s-60s by the weekend, so this will all be gone by then.)
The post-panickers were out of the loop and didn’t see it coming. They postponed making plans and are now scrambling. They can’t get to the store now (or home from work) if they wanted to. Unfortunately, some of them in panic to get home, drove faster than they should have and produced a car accident. Perhaps being more proactive in their preparation may have eliminated some unnecessary grief.
(In fairness to the post-panickers, many of us are reactionary when it comes to life events. For some here this did end up being a surprise event. In this instance all the early computer models Monday night had the storm going further south of Atlanta than north. So no one on the north side paid attention. Guess where it ended up going? More north. Silly weather.)
So today those who fall in the panic category are either patting themselves on the back or kicking themselves for not being prepared.
Emotion 2: Excitement
I’ll admit to feeling a sense of excitement when the snow started to fall. I’ve been in Atlanta for 18 years now and have grown to miss seeing the snowfalls I remember as a child. Something about the beauty of it sticking to the trees and the crunch beneath your feet produces a warm feeling inside of me.
My feelings of excitement however, were insignificant compared to the pandemonium that took place in the hallways at school. Students were rushing to the windows during class breaks, giggling at the first few flakes that began to fall. So much excitement over something we don’t often see here.
That excitement bubbled over as school was dismissed early and notification went out that classes were cancelled for Wednesday.
If the excitement bubbled over when we left school, it erupted when our car pulled into the driveway at home. Within ten minutes my kids were in hats and gloves ready to enjoy an afternoon like none they have seen (at least not my youngest). There enjoyment of this weather event will live in my memory (and in pictures) for a long time.
So, from an excited child’s perspective, the day could not have been better (unless you were one of the unfortunate ones who couldn’t get home and had to spend the night at school. Ugh…).
Emotion 3: Pressure
These type of events put pressure on so many people:
Parents braving the conditions to pick their children up early from school,
Drivers cautiously navigating the roads,
Road crews assisting stranded motorists and keeping the roads passable (which didn’t happen on ATL’s Interstate system),
County school systems and businesses making decisions to close,
Local government deciding how to best use funds to handle the emergency,
And the list goes on.
Pressure is a part of life. We face it every day in some form or fashion. Some people thrive on it. It locks others down and forces poor decisions.
In early January, our local school system closed for two days due to extreme cold and the threat of snow. The cold came but the snow didn’t. We easily could have been in school both days. I heard the county caught a lot of heat from parents for that decision.
So this time around they decided not to cancel school, even though the chance of snow was 100% starting at noon on Tuesday. Oh, did I mention all the other surrounding counties had already cancelled school on Monday night? Seems like an inconsistent message being sent by the school system in regards to student safety.
So what happened? Why not call off school with all the risk?
I can’t help but believe the second decision was influenced by the negative feedback received from the first decision. Not wanting to face the backlash again, they chose to stay open.
So we had to dismiss school in the middle of the day Tuesday, a logistical challenge in itself. I wonder how put out the parents will feel and what negative feedback they will give the county school board over this decision.
Pressure can make us do some weird and uncharacteristic things.
Emotion Is a Part of Life
Life events produce emotions. How we respond to them can shed some light into how we plan, how we receive news and how we make decisions. I, for one, am going to enjoy this day and help my kids build a snowman.
After all, we don’t get to experience this very often.
Into which panic category do you normally fall – planner or reactionary? How do you respond when pressure hits? Do you rely on decisions made in the past or focus solely on making the best decision in the present situation?
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