From Baltimore with Love (Repost)

Two feet of snow.
Outside of my back window, icicles slowly drip, snow glistens, trees bend.  Occasionally a squirrel—a reckless naysayer no doubt—rushes up a heavy branch.
Out front, my children, neighbors and I have piled two feet of snow into treacherous mounds of four or five feet, packed behind cars, along narrow parcels, squeezed anywhere so we can all get out—when they plow our small cul de sac.
At 1:45 AM, a bulldozer beeps, light shining as if it is not 1:45 in the morning, up my street.  Accidentally, the small truck knocks over a mound of snow as it turns.  It is not so much plowing snow, as making tracks over it in some areas, through it in others.
By morning, my street is more clear than it will be in 24 hours, but today, I am on vacation.
When I think of vacation, I think of warm sand, blue waters, music.  If I think of a snow vacation –and I rarely do—I picture skis, a cute bunny suit, and warm cocoa.
The State of Maryland is under a state of emergency.
Two days and two more feet of snow later, I am on vacation again.
Baltimore City is in a Phase III emergency.  Bulletins warn residents to stay off the streets, even walking them, unless it is an unavoidable.  Essential employees, police, fire fighters, must report or are on standby.  Four feet of snow has a way of putting careers in perspective.  Even the self-declared-self-important, must stay off the streets.
My children are restless, bored, easily agitated with one another: we are in a house of emergency. 
This is not how I would choose to spend my vacation. 
But, I can’t afford not to.
To be paid for the days off due to snow, I must use my vacation time.  Millions of Americans do not have company paid vacation time.  Across the country, in other state of emergencies,  non-essential employees are forced to attempt to trek snow and ice covered streets because their employers cannot or do not offer paid time off.
And so, I sit in front of my window waiting for a stalactite-like icicle to drip off the side of the house attempting to enjoy yet another day of vacation.


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