Until we moved to Michigan twelve years ago, I never heard of “severe weather” alarms. I might have described a blizzard as severe weather, but not thunderstorms. I didn’t like being outside in thunderstorms, but so long as I was indoors I felt safe.
Where I worked in Michigan, I had to learn not only where to exit the building in case of fire, but also where to go within the building in case of severe weather. Because my job took me all over the plant, I had to learn where all the safe locations were – usually these were rest rooms, as it has to be a room with no windows. I don’t remember actually having to ever take shelter in one of those, however.
When I got a job here in Iowa, I learned that my desk happened to be in the designated area to go to in case of severe weather (inside the data center, which is built to withstand very high winds). The first time the severe weather alarm went off, I was happy to be able to sit at my computer and keep busy, while dozens of my co-workers milled around waiting for the storm to pass.
This spring I moved to a desk outside the data center, and for the most part I have been glad of the move. But Monday afternoon when the alarm sounded and we all crowded into the data center, I thought how nice it would be to have a computer to sit down at. Most of my co-workers have laptops, and some had brought their computers with them. There wasn’t much place to sit, but at least they could access the network and do something.
One co-worker had the foresight to grab some decks of cards off her desk. Unfortunately for me, they were all decks set up for euchre, as there has been a euchre tournament going on at lunchtime. Some friends tried to teach me euchre a few years ago, but it didn’t appeal to me. And I don’t know any solitaire games to play with a euchre deck.
It occurred to me that a period of enforced inactivity would be a good time to pray. But the noise of dozens of conversations, on top of the ever-present noise of air conditioning (one reason I chose to move out of that area) made it too hard to think coherently. I couldn’t even manage to daydream successfully.
Wednesday I took a deck of cards to work to keep at my desk. The next time the alarm went off, I decided, I would manage to make a slight detour by my desk (still near the data center) to grab the cards and/or a crossword book.
Well, the alarm went off during lunch hour today. Unfortunately, I was nowhere near my desk – I was across the street at Wal-Mart, trying to decide what to get for lunch. I quickly made my way to the magazine aisle and picked out a crossword book. But it turned out that all merchandise not yet paid for had to be left outside the safe area where all the employees and customers were being directed into – and I couldn’t pay for it because all the cash registers were shut down.
Faced with the prospect of another hour or more of standing around with nothing to do (some people do try to carry on conversations, but the more of them who do that, the louder it gets and the harder to hear what anyone is saying), I finally pulled out my cell phone. I’ve never paid for any downloaded content on my phone before, but if I couldn’t buy a crossword book, I decided I could consider buying a game. After all, who knows when the next severe weather alarm would come?
I occupied myself for at least ten minutes just looking through the games available. Scrabble was available with a two-minute free trial – which was just long enough to figure out that I could hardly make out the letters on a screen that small. Finally I settled on Super Collapse, which I have played on the PC and enjoyed.
I thought it might be difficult to maneuver using the tiny arrow keys on the phone, rather than with a mouse, but once I got used to it I found it worked pretty well. I think I was up to level 8 or 9 by the time the All Clear sounded. I had trouble reading the small font well enough to make out my score, but I didn’t really care what it was anyway.
I figured with two severe weather alarms in one week, who knows how soon the next one might be. Well, it was pretty soon. I was working on this post when the siren went off, and we headed down to the basement. At home there are lots of choices of books, games, and movies, but in this case we chose the Muppet Show DVDs we borrowed from the library.
My husband has many times remarked on my “cultural illiteracy,” and I find that I recognize very few of the guest stars on the Muppet Show. (Those names I do recognize are most often because I used to do the TV Week crossword puzzle as a teenager.) Others I’ve heard of, but never seen perform, and it’s a somewhat educational experience to finally watch iconic figures such as Liberace, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, and Raquel Welch.
My husband has just left for work, taking with him my cell phone (he left his at church Wednesday) and my SUV, since the flash flood warning is still in effect. If there’s another severe weather warning tonight (do they ever happen at night?), I won’t be able to play Super Collapse. But there’s still one episode of the Muppet Show left to watch.