Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Hurricane Philosophy

"Some people are making such thorough preparation for rainy days
that they aren't enjoying today's sunshine."
William Feather (American author and publisher)
When TS Fay was just a bleep on the meteorologist's radar, I restocked our hurricane locker and collected extra drinking water. In the last 24 hours, I've removed possible flying projectiles from the yard and packed the garage to within an inch of it's recommended capacity. I have checked off every item from the suggested "be prepared" list in the newpaper. Every item, that is, except matches.
What? No matches? My inner Girl Scout is screaming in lack of preparedness horror. But the truth of the matter is I have plenty of matches, I just don't have the box to strike the matches on; which basically renders the matches useless. Even though I feel like the butane lighters I do have will suffice, I went out one more time to stock up on supplies. Seems we were also running low on toilet paper.
So there I am venturing out into the outer bands of the stalled storm, headed towards Walmart with the other supply-challenged shoppers. In the spirit of hurricane news reporters I clad myself in a yellow plastic rain poncho which, in essence is nothing more than a plastic bag that keeps you dry on the outside but makes you sweat so much you're dripping wet on the inside. As I walked in the store I couldn't help but notice the little girl standing at the door shaking like a soaked dog and fussing about her very purple and very wet flip flops. "Deal with it," her Mother fussed back. "It's Florida! You're gonna get wet!" As if that was all the explanation a young person would need to cope with too much water.
Combing the aisles looking for the box of kitchen matches that I'd last seen at the checkout counters, I passed a woman who was obviously working off a different supply list than me. In her arms she cradled like a newborn infant, not one but two liter-sized bottles of wine and a bag of popcorn. Not a match in site! I immediately liked her thinking!
I soon learned matches are oddly considered seasonal items. You want matches, you need to buy them in the winter months. Huh? Instead of trying to figure out this marketing logic, I decided to buy a cigarette lighter and be done with it... a cigarette lighter, two pizzas and a roasted chicken. Noticing that the lines were deep and the wait times long and knowing my tolerance for both was limited on the best of days, I opted for the self-serve line. How hard can it be?
Let me just say it turned out to be a little more challenging than finding matches in the middle of summer. I turned out to be the &#!?* dingbat holding up the line because she clearly didn't have any idea what she was doing. Thank heavens for the uniquely understanding lady behind me. She took pity on my ineptness and showed me how to make the scanner work, and explained that you HAVE to put your already scanned item in the bag so the machine will know you're not trying to steal something. Huh? When all was said and done I thanked her profusely for her patience and kindness. I know all to well not all Walmart shoppers are so tolerant.
She looked at me. She smiled. "Have a blessed day," she told me. "Happy Hurricane!"
I don't know for sure but I think that shopping angel has lived in Florida long enough to know how to "deal with it." I hope the lesson was not lost on me.
Merry ME