Friday, January 28, 2022

Esther positively adored snow days. Whenever bad weather was predicted, she’d sleep fitfully, stumbling every few minutes to her daughter’s bedroom window that faced the street lamp outside. There she would check the progress of the storm all through the night. Her husband, Len, disturbed by her meandering would shush her, muttering all the while.

“You know, I just don’t get it. You’re worse than the kids. Why are you so excited to miss a day of school? You LOVE school and you love teaching.”

“I know, but I just can’t help myself.” She’d admit. “It’s just that a day off in the middle of the week when I’m supposed to be at work is like a gift. Since I can’t go anywhere, I can do anything I want. I can stay in pajamas…clean out a closet…read a book…anything.”

But Len had already tuned her out and was snoring gently, oblivious to her musings and to the much anticipated call that finally did arrive at 5 a.m. “No school today,” said a jubilant Zysie. “Thanks so much,” whispered Esther. And she proceeded to wake up Joel, the next person on the list of teachers.

This morning, however, was a different story. The snow that had been supposed to begin at dawn was first making an appearance at 9 a.m. When she called the school to check about her class at one; Molly, the school secretary, urged her to leave early. “It’s slippery out there, but we’re all here. So come on in.”

Esther sighed as she dressed warmly in her parka, boots and hat. Then she placed her bulging tote filled with graded papers all ready to be returned into the trunk and proceeded to warm up the car and scrape off its snow-filled windows. As she headed towards the Turnpike, the drive seemed routine at first, but after the car skidded several times she began to panic. When she reached the highway, the snow started to come down in earnest and soon it was getting more and more difficult to see. Then, to make matters even worse, the car’s wipers suddenly froze at a weird angle on the glass and refused to budge. Esther banged on the window in an effort to dislodge them but there they stayed, useless to her. She looked around her but there was no place for to even pull over to see what was wrong; and in front of her, for what looked like miles, was an endless line of slow moving cars.

“O.K. Stay calm,” she reasoned. “I’ll just open my window and wipe off a part of the windshield with my hand,” but as much as she tried, she couldn’t reach out far enough. She barely managed to drive, all the while peering through a tiny opening at the bottom of the window. Slowly, cautiously, she steered her way towards school. People were beeping her now and passing her on both sides but no one seemed to realize that she needed help. It was only the brake lights of the cars in front of her that enabled her to follow some sort of path.

It took Esther over two hours to make the 30 minute drive that morning. And all the while she continued to speak to herself in an effort to remain calm.

“It will be o.k. It’s good that I’m going in to work. Maybe the teachers who drive from Lakewood can’t make it and they really need me today. And the girls will be so happy to get their tests back so quickly.” But even she didn’t really believe one word of what she was saying.

As she gripped the steering wheel with her sweaty hands she began to get increasingly angry. “Why am I always such a wimp? I should have turned around. I can’t see a thing and I’m going to get killed. Then they’ll find those stupid tests in my trunk and they’ll write on my tombstone, SHE ALWAYS RETURNED HER EXAMS ON TIME”!!

After what seemed like an eternity, Esther finally saw it. The school building, dressed in winter white, miraculously loomed ahead like a welcoming mirage. As she drove into the almost empty parking lot, Esther took a deep breath and thanked God for delivering her safely. She would deal with the broken windshield wipers later. Now, she was running late. Taking a deep breath, she strode into the building trying not to seem too unnerved. She didn’t want her students to see what a wreck she was. It was at just that moment that she heard the announcement. The loudspeaker echoed through the hallway.

“Good afternoon girls. Because of the inclement weather we are commencing early dismissal right now. Please gather your belongings and head to your buses. Have a safe trip home.” Cheers erupted from every classroom.

Poor Esther, she had always, absolutely, positively, adored snow days. Now, however, she knew for certain that she would be quite happy if she never saw a snowflake again.

Estelle Glass, a Teaneck resident, is a retired educator who is now happily writing her own essays.

By Estelle Glass

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