Tornado??!! (253rd new thing).

January 20, 2012 § Leave a comment

Although you may not believe me, prior to Day Two Hundred Fifty-Three I had never heard a tornado siren. “Surely,” you may say, “you, living in the Southeast, have at least heard ONE tornado siren in your life??” But the truth is that if I had indeed experienced the terror of a piercing warning of a possible oncoming disaster, I don’t remember it.

I headed out of our hotel meeting room to go shopping in the nearby Montgomery suburbs when I first heard the low rumble of a siren. At first I thought there was something wrong with the minivan I had been driving, that perhaps it was groaning under the strain of being beat up since it first emerged from the car assembly line and set up office at Thrifty Car Rental. I rolled down the window a little and realized the whine was actually coming from outside. Not having heard the wail before, I never thought that it could be a warning of an oncoming storm.

I continued my shopping as if everything was normal, only asking what was going on of the Office Depot employees at my final store. “Is that…a tornado siren?” I asked incredulously. “Yup,” the girl behind the counter replied. I asked her if I should be worried or maybe take cover and she simply shrugged her shoulders.

I stopped for gas on the way back to the downtown hotel and that’s when I became frightened. The woman behind the counter inside the convenience store insinuated that I should most definitely protect myself and that after what had happened in Tuscaloosa early in the year, anything could be possible. The whipping winds and sheets of rain outside the windows did little to calm my growing apprehension.

Determined to make it safely back into the bricks of the hotel, I stupidly bravely headed onto the highway. My hands were gripping the steering wheel, white knuckles gleaming and I drove slowly past the cars that had decided to pull over to wait out the storm. The rain came down hard and the wind whistled as it attempted to push the minivan from lane to lane. It was quite possibly the scariest drive of my life so far, and I was constantly looking overhead for the telltale conical tornado.

Fortunately, I made it back to HQ with only a light drizzle coating my car. When I disclosed my discovery of the whining tornado siren, no one in the meeting room seemed to have noticed anything. It felt like I had just returned from some strange Wonderland experience, and no one had noticed my absence. At least I survived a possible tornado.

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