My-oh-my, yesterday was a glorious morning. Sunny and clear and warm, all the adjectives you want in a weather forecast. The sky was blue, the grass was green. The birdies were singing, a sweet-scented breeze wafted, the world was abloom, it was utopia.
Then the tornado sirens went off.
Now it doesn’t matter how courageous you are or how many times you’ve heard them wail, your hair will stand on end at the sound. An ominous, foreboding racket that fills a person with an alarming sense of dread. The images it conjures are not of a bicycling Mrs. Gulch, no, but of the Luftwaffe and The Blitz and stiff upper lips. It’s like every World War II movie you’ve ever seen, except this isn’t Britain and it’s not 1940.
It’s Illinois at ten in the morning on the first Tuesday of the month, the appointed hour for testing the emergency sirens. Were I a nefarious sort, the first Tuesday of the month would be my busy time. With the warning sirens already blaring, it would be the ideal moment to stage a coup or create other various and sundry mayhem.
Even worse, imagine if a Category F3 Tornado had dropped out of the sky at, say, 10ish in the a.m. Who’d have run for cover? Exactly no one, that’s who. We’d have been caught flat-footed. Okay, the odds are really long against such a thing happening, but they’re pretty long against winning the lottery, too, yet someone always collects the big money, don’t they?
This same principle of false alarms is hard at work in my new place: the smoke detectors go off as soon as the stove burners are lit. The property manager suggests using an electric fan while cooking, because the smoke detectors are ultra, ultra sensitive. To what? They go off before the pan can get warm — beeeepbeeeepbeeeepbeeeep.
To prevent this, I have to stand under the smoke detector and fan the ceiling with a magazine. Do I feel stoopid? Sure I do, but I refuse to buy a fan I don’t want or need. And, judging by the number of smoke detectors I hear, I’m not alone. If ever there is a fire, no one will stampede the exits, they’ll just plug their ears and turn up the tv.
The moral of the story?
Beware of the people who are paid to protect us. They’re not helping.
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