While Truman was closed for weather, Sodexo employees still came to work

It seems Kirksville can’t decide whether to caress us with a gentle spring breeze or bombard us with sleet and freezing rain. With Truman State University closing twice in a single semester thanks to inclement weather, students were advised Feb. 7 to stay indoors and keep away from the ice-covered sidewalks and roads — which is what I probably should have done as I walked around campus, slipping and flopping around like a newborn deer, to interview Sodexo employees who came into work despite the rest of the University shutting down.

West Campus Suites convenience store worker Lea Glass came to work despite the icy conditions. What was supposed to be a 40-minute commute from Glass’s house to work became an hour-and-a-half drive through traffic and glistening frost. Glass said she was thankful the store didn’t have to open early.

After making the long drive, Glass said the worst part of getting into the building was the walk from the parking lot to the sidewalk because of how thick the ice was. She said it took a long time to make it to work carefully but was thankful to not have an accident on the way in. What was really surprising to Glass was how many times Truman has closed down.

“I’ve been here 19 years, and this last couple of years is the most I’ve seen Truman delayed,” Glass said. “Usually if you can get there, you will go, but this is the most in the last couple years they’ve had delay or closed — like today we’re closing at 8 p.m. just to get everybody home, and tomorrow we’re back to normal.”

Not many workers called off because they lived on campus, so the convenience stores were staffed; however, some workers living off campus had to walk through the numbing wind, like Kathy Gray, who walked for 10 blocks, which could seem like an eternity. Gray said she nearly slipped three times just getting to the Dobson Hall back door.

Some workers like John Dahlman, Missouri Hall food service director, thought this ice was nothing and had no problem getting through those doors. Dahlman said it was sad if anyone got hurt, but perhaps Truman has grown a bit soft with how quick the University is to close or delay.
“Everyone is so scared of getting hurt at a time like this, you know,” Dahlman said. “If you slip and fall, it’s because gravity took over, not because Truman was open.”

Dahlman compared Thursday’s close brush with frosty danger to the freezing ice storm of 1993 in which tree branches were so thickly covered in ice that they fell on the roads and sidewalks. Drivers would have to look far ahead on the roads to make sure their vehicles wouldn’t be damaged from the debris, let alone the nearly three-inch-thick ice. Dahlman said Truman didn’t close in those conditions. It’s strange for a campus that rarely closes to suddenly shut down for experiencing something like this in comparison to the blizzard of 1993.

Dahlman had some people go home to make sure they didn’t hurt themselves on ice so they could work tomorrow. He said it was better for people to be home and unharmed than have an accident because tomorrow is far more important than today.

Jackie Stewart, Dobson convenience store supervisor, said the roads didn’t affect her personally because she drove with her husband who has been living in Kirksville for years, so he knew how the weather could affect the roads. The entire night staff was called and not a single person could come in for fear of ice, even those living on campus.

“There’s really not a lot you can do,” Stewart said. “I mean, this is what Mother Nature has given us at this time, and we’re doing the best we can, and so is the City of Kirksville with the roads.”

Stewart said some members of Sodexo went out of their way to bring in coworkers, but sometimes it was best to stay at home — even if this wasn’t quite the blizzard of 1993.