My cell phone laid vibrating on the table next to my empty plate of food. I had shared a sandwich with Spaceman and was contemplating whether or not he got the bigger half. I usually don’t hear or notice my phone when we are out, so why this time? I looked around and realized everyone’s mobile phone was going off. As I grabbed mine to look at what was coming through, I read, “Tornado Warning in this area. Take shelter now.” Uh, excuse me?
We were finishing up our week’s long tour of Florida, Spaceman style (i.e., see and do as much as possible, then fly home and pass out). Could it be I was imagining this phone warning in my tired haze? As I looked around, no one at any other table seemed fazed by the fact that soon we would be dancing through Oz if we didn’t get to cover (briefly I wondered what I would ask the Great Wizard if I followed his yellow brick road). Anyway, Spaceman had the sense to say, “Let’s go. We need to get away from these windows and head to the parking garage.”
Coming from California where I was born and bred, earthquakes are our deal…not tornados! With an earthquake you don’t have a forewarning that you are about to die/be mamed/frightened out of your mind. It just happens, and there is a certain kindness to that. This Tornado Warning thing, on the other hand, smacked us in the face and told us, “Get ready to rock – you don’t know exactly where or when, just be ready!”
We made it to the garage behind the restaurant and the safety of our car (not too difficult as it was connected to the restaurant which was on the ground level of our condo complex). Then the rains started, slowly at first. Slowly enough for one insane driver to tip-toe her car to the edge of the structure exit before the wall of water slammed down. She quickly reversed back to her parking spot and we all took to corners to wait it out. Suddenly it was a party in the structure with music playing, people laughing and me and Spaceman trying to get my selfie stick to work. To our credit, we did scan the radio trying to find a station that would come through the cement walls and tell us we weren’t going to be sucked up and die in a whirling twister.
Finally the skies cleared, the music stopped and we all drove out of the garage bunker. I called the friends we were heading out to meet to let them know we would be a bit late as we just made it through a tornado warning. The whole experience was surreal and made me want to tap my shoes together and say, “There’s no place like home!” California here I come!