It’s hard to believe that it’s almost summer. Actually, that’s not true; summer basically comes at the same time every year, and it’s slowly transitioned to through a period known as “spring.” But what is hard to believe is that just three short months ago, we experienced the most brutal winter ever.

Dubbed The Snowpocalypse and Snowmaggedon, the 2010 blizzards dumped an obscene amount of snow on the Washington DC area. So much that even the monstrous machines dedicated to clearing said snow were no match. “Due to blizzard conditions and near-zero visibility on the roadways,” emergency services announced after one storm, “to protect the safety of city employees and residents, all snowplowing operations have been temporarily suspended until weather conditions improve.” Now that’s some serious snow.

Although weather forecasts predicted that there’d be some kind of big storm, they didn’t quite predict that scale. Still, many companies preemptively addressed the “snow day” questions with internal memos. Rick received on such note from his employer.

From: "Annette Burnham" <aburnmah@RedactedTechnologies.com>
To: "All HQ" <AllHQ@RedactedTechnologies.com>
Sent: Monday, February 8, 2010 4:40:38 PM
Subject: Inclement Weather


Just a quick reminder about Redacted Technologies's inclement weather policy 
and practice since we have another storm in the near term forecast.

Should weather conditions ever become severe enough to warrant a full 
day closure or a late opening, a message will be posted to our inclement 
weather phone line; 240-555-8525.  

In most instances of wintery weather, Redacted Technologies will remain open 
for business and you should plan to arrive at work at your normal time.  
Please make sure to leave for work earlier as to allot more time for 
your commute. 

When weather becomes severe during the business day, Redacted Technologies 
management will monitor conditions to determine if early closure is 
appropriate. 

Please let me know if you have any questions. Thanks so much.

Annette Burnham
Director, Human Resources
Redacted Technologies

Not quite knowing what to expect the following morning, Rick set his alarm two hours early. When he awoke, he discovered that not only was his power out, but so were nearly a hundred thousand other homes in the area. Worse still, his street – like the rest of the DC area – was blanketed with nearly two feet of snow, which meant he and his compact sedan were not going anywhere. With his cell phone not getting any signal, he decided to sleep in and check back in a few hours.

By the time nine thirty rolled around, the power still hadn’t come on and his street wasn’t plowed, but at least his cell phone had a signal. Though he was certain his employer had called a snow day, he dialed in just to hear it for himself.

Today is Tuesday, February Nine. Redacted Technologies is open for 
business. Please drive carefully, as the roads may be a mess.

Rick was floored. A mess? he wondered, just a mess? The fricken snow plows can’t even get out there!

Moments later, his phone bleeped with the telltale sign of a new email. It was from his daily weather reporting service.

===============================
Severe Watches and Warnings 
===============================

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN BALTIMORE/WASHINGTON HAS ISSUED A

* SEVERE BLIZARD WARNING FOR...
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA-HARFORD-SOUTHERN BALTIMORE-PRINCE GEORGES-ANNE 
ARUNDEL-CALVERT- INCLUDING THE CITIES OF...WASHINGTON...BALTIMORE...
ANNAPOLIS...

-- snip --

* TRAVEL CONDITIONS ACROSS THE REGION WILL BE EXTREMELY DANGEROUS 
AND LIFE THREATENING. HELP YOUR LOCAL AND STATE GOVERNMENT FIRST 
RESPONDERS AND TRANSPORTATION AGENCIES BY STAYING OFF ROADS. 

* IF YOU ABSOLUTELY NEED TO TRAVEL IN AN EMERGENCY...DO NOT TRAVEL 
ALONE. LET SOMEONE KNOW YOUR TIMETABLE AND YOUR PRIMARY AND ALTERNATE 
ROUTES. CARRY WITH YOU A WINTER STORM SURVIVAL KIT WHICH INCLUDES A 
MOBILE PHONE...BLANKETS...FLASHLIGHT WITH EXTRA BATTERIES...HIGH 
CALORIE NON-PERISHABLE FOOD AND WATER...AND A SHOVEL.

As Rick read the bulletin, another email came through. This time, it was Annette from HR.

From: "Annette Burnham" <aburnmah@RedactedTechnologies.com>
To: "All HQ" <AllHQ@RedactedTechnologies.com>
Sent: Tuesday, February 9, 2010 9:38:49 AM
Subject: Liberal Leave for Inclement Weather


In view of today's weather, Redacted Technologies will be operating on a 
Liberal Leave policy. That is, if you are unable to come in to work, 
you may use an unscheduled vacation day. Please be sure to contact 
your supervisor by phone or email to advise him if you will not be in. 
Take care and stay safe!

Thrilled that he’d be “allowed” to use a vacation day, Rick bundled up, grabbed a shovel, and spent the next few hours clearing his driveway and sidewalks. By the time he made it back inside, his power was back on and he was able to check his email on a real computer.

From: "Ellis Bateman" <ebateman@RedactedTechnologies.com>
To: "Annette Burnham" <aburnmah@RedactedTechnologies.com>
Cc: "All HQ" <AllHQ@RedactedTechnologies.com>
Sent: Tuesday, February 9, 2010 1:14:11 PM
Subject: RE: Liberal Leave for Inclement Weather


FYI....

If anyone is thinking about going into work...DONT!! 

Columbia Gateway is impassible without 4wd and our lot is not plowed!
As a matter of fact the Snowplow driver got stuck and is waiting for
a tow in our parking lot!!!

It certainly wasn’t an exaggeration. In fact, Rick was surprised that someone had braved Snowmageddon. Not only did several of the surrounding states (Maryland included) declare a State of Emergency, but the City of Baltimore (where many DC-area employees commute from) barred all non-emergency vehicles from driving on the roads. But still, the weather wasn’t quite bad enough for Redacted Technologies.

----- Forwarded Message -----
From: "Annette Burnham" <aburnmah@RedactedTechnologies.com>
To: "All HQ" <AllHQ@RedactedTechnologies.com>
Sent: Tuesday, February 9, 2010 1:22:41 PM
Subject: FW: RE: Liberal Leave for Inclement Weather

Please note that Ellis’s message does NOT reflect company 
policy. Redacted Technologies is still open for business.

Any information pertaining to full closure or late opening will
be posted on our inclement weather hot line (240-555-8525).

“Livid” wasn’t strong enough to describe Rick’s sentiment, though it was close. He had a two-week vacation to the Caribbean planned, and he had exactly two weeks of vacation time. Redacted Technologies didn’t exactly allow “unpaid time off” either, which meant that reclaiming his vacation days wasn’t going to be easy.

Fortunately, Rick wasn’t the only one dissatisfied with the Liberal Leave policy. Recognizing that being physically and legally unable to commute to work didn’t meet most employee’s definition of “vacation”, HR generously updated their policy.

----- Forwarded Message -----
From: "Annette Burnham" <aburnmah@RedactedTechnologies.com>
To: "All HQ" <AllHQ@RedactedTechnologies.com>
Sent: Tuesday, February 9, 2010 3:11:29 PM
Subject: Liberal Leave - Wednesday, Feb 10th

We are continuing to monitor the weather and road conditions.  We 
recognize driving is extremely hazardous and urge you not to try to 
commute if it puts you in danger.  While tomorrow promises to be a 
better day, it will take time for many of us to get out and commute 
safely. 

We will continue to operate on "Liberal Leave" through tomorrow, Wednesday 
the 10th. In lieu of using vacation or personsal leave for the days lost 
since Monday the 8th,  we are offering everyone an opportunity to work 
either Saturday or Sunday, or both, to make up for hours lost since 
Monday the 8th.  We know vacation time is precious and want you to 
be able to use it for fun and relaxation when you and your family 
need and want to.

If you opt to work one or both weekend days, please be sure to email 
or call your supervisor to advise them of your decision to do.  If I 
can be of assistance, please email me or call me at (202) 555-8323. 

Take care and be safe! 

And with that, Rick settled on how he’d be spending his next two “makeupable” vacation days: enjoying Piña Coladas at home while cruising the job boards for some new digs.