A couple of nights ago I was sitting in the cafeteria at work, having just polished off a passable but far from spectacular version of the KFC Bowl. It’s generally served in a build-your-own format, where you’re able to calibrate the ingredients. Which is a positive, admittedly. But sometimes the quality of the components just isn’t there. It’s the gravy, I’ve found, that is the most important part. Most people would say the chicken, but the gravy is quietly the key to it all. And this night it was, as I said, passable but far from spectacular. In any case. I was finished eating and just sitting there talking with some folks, when everybody’s cell phones began screeching like a mental patient who just got triggered by “Surfin’ Bird.”
I picked up my phone, which was still making an ungodly sound, and it said TORNADO WARNING! TAKE SHELTER NOW! I’ve never seen a tornado in my life, but I have a fear of them. It goes back to an episode when I was a kid, I think, when we were camping at Pirateland in Myrtle Beach, and some crazy storm came through. Campers were knocked over, awnings were ripped off trailers, metal poles were flying through the air like spears… My mother broke her ankle or somesuch, and it was SCARY. The sky looked like it was intent on murder.
But I’ve lived through a thousand tornado “warnings” in my life, and don’t think too much about them. The part about TAKE SHELTER NOW! was new, but I decided it was just standard verbiage. Nothing to be concerned about.
However, a few seconds later we were all being ordered into “the shelters.” The first thing that popped into my mind was, “We have shelters?” But hundreds of people were herded into a small windowless warehouse space, and I had no interest in that. I mean, seriously. So I made my way to another small windowless warehouse space on the other end of the building. Security was yelling at me, “You’re going the wrong way!” I told them I needed to check on some people, and continued. And I found a much more luxurious tornado bunker, with ample elbow room and a more pleasing ambience.
Everybody was yukking it up in there, of course, not really taking it seriously. But I was thinking about this episode of This American Life. In it, real life people at a high school prom are also yukking it up in a tornado shelter, very similar to the one we were in. But when they emerged their town was gone. If you haven’t heard it, you should give it a listen. It’s scary, and I’ll never forget it.
We had to stay hunkered down for about 20 minutes, and they finally gave us the all-clear. The roof stayed on the building, and our cars remained in the parking lot. I was kinda hoping my Suzuki would get swept-up and sling-shotted to the outskirts of Hazleton or whatever. Then I could use the insurance money to buy a reasonable vehicle. Oh well.
It turned out to be nothing, which I’m obviously happy about. And, thankfully, I’ve never experienced a truly catastrophic weather event or natural disaster. I’ve had a tasting of many: earthquakes, mudslides, and wildfires in California, countless tornado watches and warnings, outrageous snow storms, and even a weakened hurricane in Atlanta which was still no joke by the time it got to us.
What about you? What are the worst or scariest weather/natural disaster situations you’ve faced? Please tell us about it in the comments section.
And I need to call it a day here, my friends. Toney and I are going to NYC on Saturday, with absolutely no plans or expectations. We’re taking an old lady “shopper’s special” bus, and just spending the day (many, many hours) in Manhattan. I’ll tell you all about it on Monday. It should be fun. If you’d care to contribute to our end o’ the day beer fund, I’m not going to turn that down. Those things cost about $12 each over there. Sweet sainted mother of Sixto Lezcano!
Have a great weekend, boys and girls.
I’ll see you again soon.