Hello dear readers, and happy almost Thanksgiving! This blog took me a while to write because it was so stressful, but I have finally processed it and can laugh at it now.
The past two summers have been insane in terms of weather that is not normal for this part of the country. Tornadoes in Tornado Alley? OK, fine. Tornadoes in a place that never has tornadoes? NOT OK.
To set the scene:
Mintern and I were alone in the library office, the patrons and clerks having returned to their units for the 4 o'clock count. I, in my fancy new office fashioned from a hand-me-down cubicle wall with door and window, was looking at the emerald green clouds swirling over the greenbelt while Mintern slaved away at her never-ending stack of interlibrary loan requests. The clouds started moving in a counter-clockwise circle reminiscent of the last time we had a funnel cloud directly outside the library. This summer was different though, because we now have a video camera thanks to our Read to the Children program!
I grabbed the camera and began recording. (Because I ended up making a video but I included identifying information that can't be edited out on my phone, I am not going to post it, but instead I will post a transcript so you can see what was going on.)
Opening credits slowly appear on a black screen...Birth of a Tornado....
Me: "Alright, I'm videotaping it. We'll put it on a DVD...show everyone the birth of the tornado!"
Me: *watches in awed silence for a few seconds*
Me: "Yeah those are definitely moving around in a circle."
Mintern: "Yeah they are!"
Me: "I wonder if we should call Master Control?"
Mintern: "Did you check the weather?"
Me: "I checked the news, and it just said flood warning."
Mintern: "That is super creepy!"
Me: "Maybe we should call S_____." (our boss)
Mintern: "S______!" (haha)
Me: "Maybe I should call my HB."
Me: *hands the camera to Mintern*
Me, in the background on the phone with my HB who has a degree in meterology: "Yeah the two times I have been here they have not done the tornado siren though...Ok you're saying we should probably get in the closet...well I can't drive, you can't drive in a tornado!...Well it's right outside the library...Ok thank you for the weather update..."
The video ends then, because I decided that I would go against HB's advice and make a run for it and try to get home before the tornado hit. I told Mintern to get in the closet if it got worse and I headed towards the lobby. As I was leaving, the Shift Commander and some of the yard staff were admiring the unusual atmospheric conditions from the ground but nobody seemed overly concerned. I made it to the lobby just as the tornado sirens started blaring but I told the lobby officer I was going to make a run for it and to wish me luck...
Now, dear readers, hindsight is 20/20. What happened next was the most stupidest thing I could have EVER done. I got in my Jeep and started driving home, which, as luck would have it, was right towards the center of the tornado.
I got, maybe 300 yards away from the prison when the hail started. All of a sudden, the air around me was slate grey and thick with rain pounding my Jeep sideways. I pulled over because I realized it wasn't smart to be driving and started surveying my options. Conditions got worse and worse, and it sounded like the hail was going to break the glass in the windows any minute. The wind was howling, and I felt my Jeep rock a little bit. Cars kept driving past me and I was thinking, ARE YOU GUYS CRAZY!! THE TORNADO IS RIGHT THERE!!!!" (I found out later that the tornado did, in fact, touch down 1/4 mile from where I was...YIKES!!!)
Finally, I couldn't take it anymore and I knew I had to get out of there. I didn't care that it was a one way street, every instinct in my body was telling me to MOVE. I threw the Jeep in drive and made a U-turn. Luckily, nobody was coming at that moment. I drove the wrong way down the one way street, praying that nobody would hit me and hoping that anyone seeing me scared enough to flee like that would have second thoughts about driving into the raging fury that lay ahead. I dodged one car by mere inches and then I was back on the two lane road, headed towards my safe haven of prison.
I pulled in the parking lot pursued by pelting rain and driving hail the size of golf balls. One hit me in the ear as I ran towards the lobby. Seeing me coming, the staff who were smart enough to stay inside opened the door and ushered me to safety. Outside, the storm lasted for what seemed like hours, but 30 minutes later the wind died down and the sky cleared up. I called Mintern to check on her, and she said HB had called and she told him I left and he was extremely worried. I never take my cell phone to work because I don't want to fry its little phone brain in the hot car, so Mintern called HB and patched him through to the lobby so I could let him know I was ok.
When I left work, the road I normally take looked like Armageddon had hit. The bridge over the stream was flooded (I forged on through, because Jeep, but don't you do that dear readers. Aside from driving right into the tornado, driving through a flood is the second worst thing you can do) and giant tree branches were littering the road. The street was a green carpet of leaves and you could not even see the asphalt. All the shutters on the houses looked like someone had thrown baseballs at them and some of the siding looked the same. I finally made it home safely, and I definitely learned a lesson because I have never been so scared in my entire life.
But, all's well that ends well and what doesn't kill makes you stronger, and I will never scoff at the forces of nature again.
Until next time!