Thursday, October 22, 2020

Life & Style

Tornado To Do

Ever click your heels three times only to realize that you’re wearing the wrong shoes?

What occurs that afternoon is later classified as a “microburst,” but let me be clear. There was nothing “micro” about it. Can I do justice to what it’s like when you get a tornado warning on your phone and within seconds realize that the warning is coming true? Probably not. But I’ll try.

The weather folks are saying there’s a chance of thunderstorms. It’s summer and a hot one at that, so there’s always a chance of thunderstorms. As the day progresses the ante is upped like a game of Dare You, Dog-Dare You, Double-Dog-Dare You, and finally to the wretched Triple-Dog-Dare You.

Chance of thunderstorms. Chance of Severe Thunderstorms. Tornado Watch. Finally the wretched Tornado Warning.

This is the worst game ever.

I’m at work, looking at the sun streaming onto the grass. I walk to the windows on the other side of the building and the sky there is dark and churning. In the time it takes for me to turn and walk back to the sunny window view, it’s no longer sunny. It’s black and menacing. I’ve never seen a storm hit so fast. It’s like a boxer with a killer right hook. Comes out of nowhere and lays you flat.

I’ve never witnessed rain like this, either. It’s gray and solid looking like liquid mercury. The wind and rain pummel the trees with such force that branches tear off and soar sideways. It’s like a demented child ripping the wings off flies. A large pine tree falls. I can hear myself shrieking involuntarily as if I’m watching a horror movie. Well, I am watching a horror movie.

The power goes out with a slam and there’s commotion in the hall outside the office. A woman is stuck in the elevator. I realize that as scared as I am, there are worse places I could be right now. I could be in that elevator.

This is a real bull-in-a-china-shop storm, all heaving and kicking and knocking things over. It’s terribly frightening and it’s almost rude at the same time. How dare it come barreling over here uninvited and tear everything up! We just dealt with its obnoxious pal Isaias mere weeks ago!

After a while the storm subsides until it’s just a regular old thunder and lightning event. The woman in the elevator is released when a man with a giant crowbar arrives and pries the doors open.

I want to get home before dark, so I leave while there’s a lull in the action. The highway seems the best option, but I can’t get to it. There’s so much traffic on the road leading to the onramp that it’s stopped dead and the intersection is blocked by a gigantic 18-wheeler truck. I take Route 1 and call my mom as I drive because I know that if she has power she’s been watching the news.

“Hi, I’m alive!” I say as she answers.

“Oh good! I’ve been watching the news!” she replies. “I’m glad you’re okay, but don’t stay on the phone. Just focus on getting home and call me when you get there.”

She’s right. I hang up the Bluetooth device, make sure my hands are in the 10 and 2 position like Mr. Warner taught me in high school, and slowly creep my way east. When I near my town’s border, it’s a completely different world. It’s a world where there was some rain, maybe a little wind. A dainty, leafy branch on the pavement.

I’m one of the lucky ones who has power. I also have a bottle of wine, which I open immediately. I don’t know anyone who has been bored in 2020, but we’re all getting pretty tired. This is the year when things have turned as quickly as a late-summer twister.

There’s only one thing on my to-do list right now: Find ruby slippers, size 8.

Juliana Gribbins is a writer who believes that absurdity is the spice of life. Her book Date Expectations is winner of the 2017 Independent Press Awards, Humor Category and winner of the 2016 IPPY silver medal for humor. Write to her at Read more of her columns at

Juliana Gribbins is the Columnist for Zip06. Email Juliana at .

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