On Monday, I went to work, as did every employee in the Houston area, wondering if my company was going to be open for business on the following day. In the previous twenty-four hours, Tropical Storm Edouard had appeared in the Gulf of Mexico, and while it showed little possibility of strengthening into a hurricane, all indications were that it was headed straight for the Houston metropolitan area.
Predictably, my daughter’s preschool announced it would be closed on Tuesday, the day Edouard was scheduled to make landfall. Similar, my husband’s employer announced the same. Great, I thought to myself, we’ll all be home together as a family when the storm hits. Then Outlook pinged its announcement of an incoming email:
“We will remain open tomorrow,” the e-mail said, “however, your safety is of utmost importance. We leave it to your discretion as to whether you feel you can make it safely to the office.”
You know where this is going, right?
As it happened, management had scheduled an all-day meeting for Tuesday, and further, made it clear that the meeting wouldn’t be canceled. I knew that there was no way I was going to get out of that meeting. And so, I went.
It turns out that Tropical Storm Edouard was really a non-event as far as my part of town was concerned: while there was a lot of rain, I made it to my meeting without any fear of danger, my husband was home with my daughter, and all was well. But still, I have to admit that I was perturbed I felt pressured to do what it took to brave the weather. I can’t help but wonder if “your safety is of utmost importance” was nothing more than lip service.
And the fact that the meeting was 12-hours long, and one of the managers made a joke of his expectation that we “consider the company our spouse” didn’t improve my mood much, either.