With the start of school delayed by two hours this past Friday, it sure was easy getting to work. Traffic was summertime-light, and none of the school zones were clogged with mom-taxi SUVs.
And, of course, the roads themselves were entirely ice-free. That certainly helped.
It didn't help make the drivers of those mom-taxis feel any better, though. Many of them were fit to be tied when the prediction of foul overnight weather evaporated with the next morning's clear sunrise.
And, naturally, just about everyone began Monday-morning quarterbacking Superintendent Charles Nagle's decision to hold off on opening schools until street conditions could be assessed the next morning.
In the world of retrospect, when all imagined what-if decisions are perfect, Nagle obviously made a bad call. I mean, c'mon; it wasn't even below freezing Friday morning. There weren't any sprinkler-fed skating rinks on the asphalt, much less the accumulation of the previous night's precipitation.
Nagle is a pretty smart guy, but not even his greatest fans believe he has a crystal ball. He has to rely on weather reports like the rest of us, and in the case of last Friday's decision - which had to be made late Thursday so they'd have time to get the word out - it was with safety of the students in mind.
Actually, that needs a caveat. Safety of students in the eastern, urbanized part of the county wasn't much in question. But the safety of students in the rural, western end of the county were the greatest concern, because those roads are less traveled and, after a night of freezing rain, likely to be less safe.
Just one problem: The number of students in that part of the county is exceptionally small as a percentage of the total pupil population. That means the transportation of a fraction of students was allowed to inconvenience the majority. Aren't we smart enough to figure out a better way to do things?
If there can be something constructive from the decision to postpone the opening of schools, it is this: Somehow, the county should take the opportunity to figure out where the highest risk areas are, and focus on assessing their safety without shutting down all the schools.
After all, if one school caught fire and had to close for the day, we wouldn't shut down the entire system, would we? So why lock the doors just because we're worried about a handful of students in Winfield or Appling? Just assess those streets, adjust the school schedule for those students, and let it be business as usual elsewhere.
I know. It's easier just to shut the whole thing down rather than just a part of it. But if that starts to make sense, that can only mean you're a bureaucrat.
Incidentally, one of the more revealing stories ever was the one that ran the other day in The Chronicle, in which parents in Richmond County complained about finding out about their school system's delayed start through the media.
Many of those parents said they would rather have gotten a telephone call to let them know about the delay, even if it meant waking them up in the wee hours.
But staff writer Preston Sparks (the former News-Times news editor) provided a brilliant piece of perspective by pointing out the "tons" of complaints school officials received a year earlier - when the system telephoned parents to tell them about a delay.
That illustrated, perfectly, the axiom: Danged if you do, danged if you don't. I'm guessing Nagle is thoroughly familiar with it by now.
In a couple of weeks, we'll once again publish the photos of every winner of the school spelling bees the day before the county's competition.
I've already judged one bee, and have another coming up this week. I'm not sure which is more fun: Knowing the audience is applauding an intellectual effort, or observing how hundreds of kids can remain absolutely quiet for such a long period of time.
I was heartbroken to learn of the death Saturday of Tom Stafford of Grovetown.
Stafford, who lost a long battle with cancer, was a decorated U.S. Marine veteran of Vietnam, a hero and a true patriot.
He and I didn't always agree on some issues, but he was unfailingly polite and respectful - the absolute epitome of a Southern gentlemen.
God bless his family in their time of loss.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail email@example.com. Follow at www.twitter.com/barrypaschal.)
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.