I’m sure you were all absolute delights at school, but even the best of us have bad days. Because I’m still obsessing over the snow, mine is snow day related. Sit back, and I’ll tell you a tale…
It was back in middle school; I think I was about 9 at the time. My parents used to drop me off at a friend’s house in the morning, and I would walk to school with her and her mum. That particular morning was full of excitement, because there was fluffy white stuff everywhere. Now, this was around 1990, so we couldn’t check school closures online. You had to wait by the radio, or hope that a phone tree system would kick in. We’d heard nothing, but there was still hope. Even as we trudged to school, we nursed an optimistic idea that maybe school would be cancelled…
The playground was covered in snow, and there were pupils playing in that overexcited way that they do when there’s snow. There were teachers out in the playground as well. All the signs pointed to no snow day. But we still had hope.
And that’s when my friend’s mum sent us over to find out for sure. That was the first mistake. We bounced through the snow towards one of the assistant heads, Mr Newton, and asked what was, in hindsight, a very silly question: “Do we have to come to school today?” If we’d phrased it differently — if we’d asked if the school was shut, for example, what happened next might have been quite different.
Because Mr Newton clearly thought it was a silly question. I mean, we were AT SCHOOL. There were people everywhere. He was probably cold and annoyed at having to stand outside. He’d probably been asked this by loads of optimistic kids. And so, fatefully, he chose sarcasm. That was the second mistake.
He said, “Well, not if you can’t get in.” He meant, “Some people might be snowed in, but you’re here now, so nice try.” But what we heard was: “YOU DON’T HAVE TO COME TO SCHOOL TODAY.” We heard it clear as a bell. So that’s the message we took back to my friend’s mum. We weren’t lying — we completely believed it. She believed it — we’d literally just spoken to Mr Newton; why would she doubt us? Buoyed up with excitement, off home we went. SNOW DAY, SNOW DAY!
But it didn’t stop there — because we were nice kids. We were helpful! We wanted to share the good news! We wanted to save others from the trek up to the playground. Why would we make them go all that way in the snow, when they didn’t need to? Yes, that’s right — we told every single person we saw that they didn’t need to go to school. Every single one. They passed it on. There’s nothing as effective as word of mouth…
And that is how we made an unofficial snow day happen.
I don’t know how many people were effectively truant from school that day. I can only imagine Mr Newton’s expression when he realised that we weren’t in class. He’d seen us! He thought he’d told us that school was open as normal! And when everyone else got the phone call asking where the hell they were, well, it could all be traced back to us.
We should have been heroes. Unfortunately, everyone just thought we were absolute idiots for not understanding what we were told. I wonder if Mr Newton regretted his sarcasm, or whether he just thought we were stupid as well. Let’s be honest, it’s really his fault.
To this day, I triple check snow day alerts, just in case I’ve got the wrong end of the stick… I’m 36. But I don’t trust myself. What if I just see what I want to see? What if this really becomes my theme tune?
What is the naughtiest or daftest thing you ever did in school? Share in the comments! Bonus points for any snow-related stories!