August

27

2011

How Not To Prepare For A Hurricane

Filed under: Adult Children of Alcoholics, Humor, Maternal Musings

This has been a strange week. It began with a 5.9 earthquake which caught me by surprise because I didn’t think they had earthquakes here in Maryland. When our house began to shake, I grabbed the girls and ran outside.

There were waves in our pool. Ella said, “Look, a little tsunami!”

Now we are waiting for Hurricane Irene, who rudely arrives at our house this afternoon and plans to stay overnight whether we want her to, or not.

Storm watch, outside our house. 8:30 A.M.

We were scheduled to leave for our first East Coast beach vacation this weekend. We had chosen Ocean City – which was ordered to evacuate yesterday. I couldn’t believe I managed to schedule our vacation to coincide perfectly, almost down to the hour, with the arrival of Irene.

My husband works all the time so it was up to me to prepare for the hurricane. I have no idea what this means, so I Googled “how to prepare for a hurricane” and learned that I need to buy:

- water
– flashlights (because naturally, our kids have dismantled ours)
– battery-operated or crank-up radio
– non-perishable foods

We are not the kind of people who would go on Survivor and bring our own Swiss army knives. We are the kind who would book into a hotel and order room service until it was over.

Home Depot was out of flashlights, of course. I stood with a group of last-minute-losers-who-would-be-kicked-off-Survivor-on-the-first-episode. We were all in front of the flashlight display, staring at it. There was a grabby vibe at Home Depot, and it was pretty contagious. One person reached for one of the miniature keychain flashlights, so I grabbed one. Someone picked up one of the ridiculous headlamps, the kind miners wear on their helmets, so I grabbed one of those, too, along with a handful of idiotic flashlights that nobody else would buy because they’re too small and don’t really work.

Then I wandered over to the kitchen display to admire the marble tile and remembered that I was supposed to be preparing for the worst – so I loaded 20 gallons of water and some paper towels into my cart. I’m not really sure what I intend to do with the paper towels but they might come in handy soaking up several feet of water, should the roof blow off or something. I don’t really know.

I went over to the indoor plants area, and thought about buying a potted fern – but then recognized that a fern would be of no help to anyone in the oncoming disaster. I grabbed a “200 Pack” of daffodil bulbs. In the patio area, I made a mental note to myself to take down our patio umbrella, in case it should become airborne and impale my husband, who still hasn’t taken down the Christmas lights, and is probably going to be crouched in a corner, rocking back and forth without his cell phone and Internet connection.

Christmas lights in August.

I watched the other people in the store methodically get their supplies. It looked like everybody knew what to get. One man bought a small shovel, so I did too. I had no idea what to get.

On my way out, a man and a woman were demanding to know where the flashlights were – knowing full well they were sold out and that, like me, they were last-minute-losers who should not be taking out their angst on a defenseless clerk.

Clerk: “We’re expecting a shipment of flashlights tomorrow.
Man: “But it’ll be dark, tomorrow!”

At that moment I could imagine how easy it is to start and become part of a mob, even if you live in the suburbs, when there is limited supply of say, Christian Laboutins. The man stormed off. I panicked then. Like everybody else, he seemed to know what to do and what to be pissed off about but I was in my usual fog, wondering.

Once, some years ago, my friend Derval came with me to Safeway to shop for Thanksgiving dinner. Before that I had no idea I was an aimless zig-zagger – going from Aisle 1, produce, over to Aisle 13, cake mixes, then back to Aisle 1 again – until after we had completed our shopping and Derval sat down on a bench, heaving, saying she wanted Xanax.

Me: “Why?”
Her: “Most people go from the first aisle to the last aisle, but you! You are like a Hare Krishna – hopping all over the place.”

After that I began forcing myself to meticulously start at produce and move in an orderly fashion from Aisle 1 to Aisle 23, ending in the deli area.

I left Home Depot (carrying a potted fern, by the way) to go to Safeway. In the car, NPR was doing a story about the famine in Ethiopia – interviewing moms whose children were dying of starvation. Talking about how 30,000 children and babies have died of it in the last 3 months. I thought to myself: That’s a disaster you cannot prepare yourself for. This is just a storm.

In aisle 16 of Safeway (which I got to after aisle 15) there was another group of last-minute-losers demanding to know where the flashlights were. These were suburbanites who you would think ought to know better than to bully a teenaged stocker.

Clerk: “I’m pretty sure they are supposed to be in aisle 17.”
Woman: “They’re not in 17 I’ve just been there! He’s just putting us off – they’re out!”

Her grocery cart was full. I thought of the mothers in the Horn of Africa, the 30,000 kids under 5, and what it must be like to watch your child starve to death. This is why I can’t seem to get through a grocery store like regular people – I’m always analyzing our society and going off on mental and emotional tangents.

I thought once again about how easy it would be for a riot to start up – anywhere, at any time. Even in the suburbs, at Safeway, with full grocery carts.

I bought almost $300 worth of stuff. Here’s a list of some of it:

- fresh salmon to grill (who’s going to use the outdoor grill in the storm??)
– ingredients for making a new recipe, fresh mango-cilantro salsa (WTF?!)
– stuff to make frozen chocolate covered bananas (I forgot popsicle sticks! I forgot that the freezer isn’t going to be working!)
– Windex (how is Windex going to help me in a g.d. hurricane?)
– approximately 2,000 AA batteries, I have no idea why. 
– 6 Polly Pockets!

Let me explain about the Polly Pockets. By the time I got to the kids doohickies aisle I was threadbare from wondering what to get and how to behave in a disaster, and then I spotted the Polly Pockets. I had an urge to grab something and there were only six of them left at $2.99 each. My kids love Polly Pockets, and they’re so cute so I stood there for 5 minutes trying to choose between the green one or the orange one for Fiona and the little mermaid or the blonde one for Ella.

This is what I do, in the face of an impending disaster: I drop down into the myopic. Instead of focusing on something I can’t control (a hurricane, for example), I’ll get over-involved in whether to get the pink Polly, or the orange one.

Polly Pockets

I left the store and got into my car. I turned on NPR, and thanked God I am so lucky. I may have parental ADHD, and get overwhelmed in stores, but at least I have a store to go to. I have a roof over my head, and my children are nourished, healthy, and happy. We will weather this storm – and after I write this, I’m going to make a donation to help the moms in Ethiopia.

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Comments

29 Responses | TrackBack URL | Comments Feed

  1. I love that you think about the starving children, and put things into perspective. Hope you guys will be okay hunkering down with grilled salmon with a side of salsa. Always eat well, no matter the weather.
    Twitter: MamaWantsThis

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  2. Great post, as usual, Ado! Funny yet profound. Hurricane Irene is supposed to hit us here in NY, too. I’m about 1 1/2 hours north of New York City, but the storm is predicted to come over land with the eye unnervingly close to where I live. I picked up two cases of water. And what is it with flashlights? Where do they go? Why are the batteries always dead when you really need them? The storm is expected here tonight. (I’m charging my Kindle so I’ll be ready….oh, and the cell phones, laptops, and iPods that will keep my children pacified for a few hours – should we lose power.)

    I had my own pre-storm meltdown of sorts yesterday. My daughter (14) has had a cough since she got home from sleep away camp a week and a half ago. (The camp warned of a virus that had been going around.) But late yesterday afternoon she started to complain her throat felt closed off and she was having trouble swallowing. I gave her fluids and checked her throat (with a flashlight – that thanks to the pending storm – had functional batteries.) Around 4:30 she complained of the chills. I checked her temp. 103. Right away I thought strep throat. I called my pediatrician’s office to ask if we could run in for a throat culture. When I explained why the receptionist said, “So let me get this straight. Your daughter has been home from camp with a cough for a week and a half and just now, at 4:35 on a Friday it’s an emergency and you need to see the doctor?”

    Well, let’s just say, I lost it and started yelling like a crazed woman how I was a nurse and I wouldn’t waste her or the doctor’s time if it wasn’t necessary, how she worked in a doctor’s office and I’m sorry if she was having a bad day but she needed to expect to receive phone calls from sick people and parents who were worried about their children and not at their best, and how children didn’t only get sick between the hours of 9 and 5, and how I’d been going to that doctor’s office for over twenty years and never had I beed disrespected….yada, yada, yada. And I have a sick child in my house with 103 fever and a hurricane moving up the coast and if she needs antibiotics I want to make sure I can get them before we are plunged into darkness for weeks!!!!

    Long story even longer, I slammed down the phone and took my daughter to the local walk-in emergent care facility. Strep test negative. She has a virus (probably the one from camp finally taking hold) and she still has a 103 fever and chills and a hurricane is still headed for us and I feel kind of bad for freaking out at the receptionist…but not bad enough to apologize – because she was rather sarcastic when she shouldn’t have been.

    Stay safe!
    Twitter: WendySMarcus

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    • I am so glad the doctor called you to check on her but man, I’m glad you tore that receptionist a new one. How dare she say that line about “4:35 on a Friday?” Seriously – uncalled for.
      Twitter: Adothemomalog

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  3. haha; you already know MY story from Twitter…. we may not have salmon or a new recipe for mango chutney (I WISH) but we also have plenty of batteries (a special at Radio Shack) and I’ve made a trip to LL Bean, close but out of everything, 3 trips to the grocery store, cleaned out the yard for impaling objects, and now WAITING. The good thing about being in Northern New England is that we can see what’s coming our way for longer, the bad part is we have to WAIT longer and you’re all done by the time we’re getting hit! Stay safe and see you on the other side of Irene!
    Twitter: wordsxo

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    • Yeah – you’re “last” – it’s all the waiting and suspense that will do you in!
      Twitter: Adothemomalog

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    • Julia, I’m not kidding – I’m still dreaming yearningly about your red radio. Jealous!
      Twitter: Adothemomalog

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  4. It’s really all about perspective, isn’t it?
    Twitter: SusannaLHill

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    • If I was a mom in Ethiopia struggling with the famine I would wish I could trade places with a woman in a supermarket in America buying flashlights and worried about her power going out – the Ethiopian woman probably never even had power in her life. It is all about perspective.
      Twitter: Adothemomalog

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  5. Oh, that was hilarious. Hope you guys weathered the storm alright.

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    • Hi Dana, We are all fine! Thank goodness! (-:
      Twitter: Adothemomalog

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  6. I really don’t know whether to laugh or to cry reading this. Your clueless-ness was hilarious, and I had to laugh at that one, even though I felt guilty about laughing at someone who’s preparing for a hurricane! Sorry, sorry…

    And then the batteries… hmm… I’ll let you get away with that one. But ingredients for a salsa and frozen chocolate covered bananas??? HAHAHAHA sheet, I had to cry on that one. HAHAHAHAHA. Seriously, WTF would be the right response, girlfriend. LOL

    But having laughed at you, I have to admit, I’m the sort to go on cruise control in the face of impending doom. I freaked out at times when others did not; but then I stayed calm when others freaked out. Uh huh. Weird.

    Anywaaaays, gotta love the Polly Pockets. THAT was a good buy! ;)
    Twitter: dosweatthesmall

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    • Sweaty: the appropriate response is of course to laugh! (-: If I got you to laugh I’ve done my job as a mom-blogger. (-:
      Twitter: Adothemomalog

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  7. Oh I love your sense of humor over the whole thing. Those poor clerks at the store. I mean what do these people think they are doing? Stockpiling the flashlights for the highest bidder?
    Twitter: HStayingAfloat

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  8. Hi Ado! Here in Florida we always buy water, batteries for our flashlights (we already have them) and non-perishable foods just before hurricane season starts. When hurricane season is over, we donate the food to our church, which is a food bank….

    I know – when it’s coming – it can be overwhelming…but it sounds like your priorities are right. I’ve been thinking of you!
    Twitter: AnnHolly

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    • Thanks so much Ann! You know – re. Florida – SO much of everything always seems to happen in Florida. I mean, I always wonder why. (-:
      Twitter: Adothemomalog

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  9. Well done! I have been thinking about your all day. loved your sense of perspective.
    Catherine

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  10. Well the good news is that if you don’t have to flee for your lives, you have a new shovel and Polly Pockets!…ok, I know it’s not supposed to be funny what you guys are going through, but I giggled my way through this post! Good job! And just for the record, those Survivor winners usually are the ones who are smart, not the ones who can make the fire. You’re still a competitor!

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    • Sandra, thanks for the giggle. Your comment made me feel much better about myself! (-:
      Twitter: Adothemomalog

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  11. You made me laught, think and appriciate in one post. Glad you are all well. And for the record mommy brain has turned me from a meticulous shopper to a aimless zig zager.
    Twitter: NorthWestMommy

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    • Well at least you have an excuse b/c apparently I was a zig-zagger pre-kids! It’s MUCH worse when I have the kids with me though. A miracle if I come home with toilet paper.
      Twitter: Adothemomalog

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  12. The only thing we ever picked up for storm prep was beer and ice. Now, if it was a bad one, we’d go ahead and load up and get out of town. But yeah, it was frustrating watching the media freak everybody out. I wanted to just get everyone to chant, “You must chill. You must chill.”
    Twitter: TheMamamash

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  14. @RedheadMom Here’s my post about how not to prepare for a hurricane (-: http://t.co/VBF6ZGfH

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  15. [...] during the hurricane, a fern, and ingredients for mango-cilantro salsa, for Pete’s sake…I am not influential about hurricanes). I am an influencer of 659 people, and a [...]

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  16. [...] to try and figure out where normal is, I usually go totally overboard (case in point, read my post How Not To Prepare For A Hurricane – I went to the store and got ingredients for making mango salsa, pre-hurricane…) And I [...]

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  17. I’m scared. The #Frankenstorm is hitting the East Coast this weekend, and I suck at preparing for #hurricanes. http://t.co/1gWuEnjk

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