Waiting for Nemo


Bloggers and Facebookers across America can thank The Weather Channel for naming severe winter storms, thereby saving us from writing “blizzard in New England and the Northeast” over and again. (I’ve read that the National Weather Service is less than happy about a commercial entity getting into the storm-naming business.)

In any event, the world of work already has been profoundly affected by Nemo, even though the current snowfall here in Boston amounts to heavy flurries. (Not to worry, it will get much worse; there’s virtually no chance that this is a false alarm.) Even last night, the streets of downtown Boston were oddly empty, as if folks were trying to get a 24-hour head start on the storm.

This morning, the city is in shutdown mode, with schools, universities, and public offices closed for the day and into the weekend, and many businesses doing the same as well. Most of our public transportation system will be off the rails and road by mid-afternoon.

For many of us whose work involves pen, paper, and keyboard, Nemo means work-at-home days, so long as the power stays on. Nevertheless, there is a distracting buzz about this storm, not unlike the mega-hours of excited, televised chatter preceding the Super Bowl. Given that I have a lot of stuff to do, I’ll try to use this time productively and not get overly caught up in the hype.

For public safety and utility workers, Nemo will be prime time. Fair or not, we tend to judge their performance during these events; on other occasions, we typically take them for granted.

Unfortunately, a good number of people are going to lose a day or two of hourly wages, for “snow day” means “no pay.” The same goes for businesses that count on walk-in customer traffic everyday. A restaurant that closes for a couple of days due to weather isn’t going to make up lost sales.

Of course, if you’re an airline customer service rep right now, you might wish that you, too, were told not to show up for work. Never a cushy job during normal times, it would easily make my top ten list of “most stressful jobs during inclement weather” list.

If you’re in Nemo’s path, please keep safe and warm!

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