Inclement Weather & Work

I want to hear from you.
My community – as some of you know – has reached our 5th day of worst-in-50-years snowstorms. I have to tell you, it’s been striking. You know of my time in Siberia and some of you know of the Midwest winters I grew up in; but this article is not really about the weather.

It’s about people. (Isn’t everything really about people?)

So, back to the last few days: with authorities encouraging everyone to stay home and stay off the roads, many have. In fact, you see a sort of childhood reminiscence on the face of many adults, taking their kids in the snow while they’re off work, or while on a break from their telecommuting.

But I’m always struck by those who do still work. Who is it you rely on during these times?

Of course we lean on emergency workers, including police, fire, hospitals, lineworkers, snowplow operators, and others. (Thanks to all of you again and again!) But who else? We rush to the grocery and the gas stations. We flock – why is this? – to retail stores. And I would guess that we also go to movie theatres. It probably goes without saying that we continue to go to coffeeshops – we’re so tied to our mochas, aren’t we? In all this, I cannot think of a single time that a grocery store or gas station wasn’t there for me when I needed them.

I’m in the book business, on the retail side, and before doing my grad work in Siberia, there were other years of retail - 12 years in books alone. In all that time, I’ve never missed work due to weather or road conditions (I’ve barely been late from them as well). This is not particularly a point of bragging but setting a framework for our discussion.

Of my present colleagues, very few live in the community where we work. They commute long distances, even in good weather. One, whose drive is normally 30 minutes and includes two long bridge crossings, traveled for 4 hours in order to open the store. Many waited for hours for busses.

So there are two items which strike me:

* Work ethic: Many in this world believe that work is good. They’re committed to contributing to the greater effort no matter what.

* Why stores?: Many times I've heard frustrated queries from customers why retail stores are closing early. Granted, this is a consumer society, but I don’t know the root of the query: is it the need to purchase, an unawareness of staff, boredom / cabin fever, or something else entirely?

This particular snowstorm is poorly timed for the economy as well: during the height of the holiday shopping season, during an economic recession. We didn’t buy a Christmas tree because we couldn’t get into the lot – in fact, I saw one lot near our home that had closed up early. I haven’t been able to drop off donations because the roads are too treacherous to make an extra stop. So much is affected.

So, what do you think? What stores do you rely on during times like these? What do you think about their workers?

You can post anonymously as well, so please, feel emboldened to be honest.


  1. Interesting query, Brenda. I made my first trip out the grocery store. It always amazes me that people are THERE, working, even in treacherous conditions. Or the ladies at my local post office. And it makes me so mad when I hear people being impatient and rude to them. I wonder if it's ENTITLEMENT that we're experiencing--where people feel it is their right to have their needs met. Whatever they are. I'll give this more thought.


  2. a link on the subject and something most of us at the bookstore can relate to:


  3. Thanks, Tina.

    Daniel, I love the article about Luel and Selam - thanks very much for sharing. Do you know their store personally?

  4. i've been in the store but don't really know them, just thought the article spoke to your blog.



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