South Carolina winters typically delivered a few snowstorms that resulted in four to six inches of snow and ice. With no snow removal equipment in the area, the cities usually shutdown until the next day when heat returned and the snow melted.
Our customers resided in the warm climates of Silicon Valley. Outside of a heavy rain, this area of California experiences extreme winter temperatures between 40 and 50 degrees. It’s an almost tropical environment.
The plant manager must have had a really scary nightmare about not delivering the silicon to California. Every fall he imparted his thoughts on our impending inclement weather. Nothing would keep our product from getting to them, he reasoned, because they wouldn’t understand snow and ice and how it impacts delivery of the silicon wafers. That being said, all of us were expected to make the drive into work regardless of road conditions.
Outside of an occasional morning glaze of ice on the road, most winters passed with very little impact. The plant kept running and we slipped and slid our way into work, mostly unscathed. Then came the twelve inch snow.
It happened over night and I don’t recall a weather forecast on any of the local television stations predicting that much snow. The next morning, the neighborhood had one of those ‘Winter Wonderland’ looks to it. Just beautiful, to look at. Then it hit me: I had to make it in to work.
My husband must have thought I was nuts. He was self-employed and opted to stay home. I told him the plant manager expected us all to make a try, so off I went to the car and backed out the driveway and into the road and into the snow. Stuck. I didn’t go in
Later I found out the night shift at the plant stayed for forty-eight hours straight. They couldn’t get home and the relief shift was unable to report to work. They robbed the vending machines for food and passed the time as best they could. The plant shut down and no product shipped for days.
It turns out Silicon Valley understood. They weren’t totally clueless about snow. Most of the intellect of the 1980’s lived in Silicon Valley; I think they could certainly understand the simple concept of a twelve inch snow. Rocket science degree not required.