I aspire to be an evolved being, I really do. But sometimes I get ambushed by the way I was raised (or at least, the way I think I was raised), and do things that are not at all in line with my desired level of evolution… In other words, I engage in a large “duh” moment.

Take this morning, for example. Snow was forecast (in historic, catastrophic, pick-your-favorite-apocalyptic-adjective proportions) last night and it was pretty obvious that it wasn’t going to miss us. I woke up to find just a few inches on the road and no parking ban in Providence (yet — I still don’t know what they were waiting for). I don’t mind driving in snow, and I’m actually pretty competent, so I decided to go ahead and leave for class. [Ivy League Institution Where I Teach doesn’t cancel class for snow because it’s a “residential campus.” No, the faculty and staff don’t live on campus. I invite you to do the math.]

It took me 45 minutes to cover the distance that ordinarily would have taken 20, and I knew there was much more mess to come as I got closer to the city. But instead of turning around then, I forged ahead. After nearly 2 hours on the road, I still hadn’t managed to get to class, a parking ban had been declared, and there were only 15 minutes left in the class period anyway. I finally threw in the towel, emailed my students to let them know class was in fact canceled, and turned for home. Another 90 minutes later and my car was back in the driveway. Virtuous, but not smart.

So why did I insist on going ahead when it was pretty obvious that it was a bad idea? I blame my Mayflower-sailing, West-winning ancestors. (There’s a long-standing rumor that the family motto is “Never say die.”) The Protestant work ethic has so suffused our family over the course of the generations that I can’t shake it no matter how I try. I hate canceling classes or appointments for any reason at all. I feel guilty for getting a cold or a case of food poisoning. And it’s all mine, this foolish tenacity. I work with perfectly reasonable people who want me to be safe and well, and who discourage super-human efforts that are likely to result in the contrary.

I can’t untravel the three hours I wasted this morning on a fool’s errand, but I can resolve to be a wiser Rubi next time. And I won’t even have to wait long to put my resolution into practice. It’s supposed to keep snowing tomorrow.

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