On emergencies

7 Feb

There’s a part of me that loves emergencies.

Post-blizzard, Feb 2, 2011


They’re exciting. You’ve got a routine, a set of rules, and then some emergency comes along and suddenly there’s a new set of rules. Work or school is called off. You have to go and live somewhere else for a couple of days. Traffic laws are no longer in effect.

There is a four lane road hidden here.

It’s my opinion that the occasional emergency is good for us. It keeps us thinking. It’s far too easy to just be carried along by normal daily life and forget what’s important. After all, when is it that people are most happy to be alive?

Abandoned car could not quite make it into the parking lot of the 7-11.

I was living in downtown Chicago for the fall semester of 2001, doing an arts program. This meant, among other things, getting graded to go see lots and lots of theatre. It was approximately the only part of the term that was heavenly for me. One of the things I saw repeatedly was Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind, thirty plays in sixty minutes. Or at least, that’s the aim. If you’re unfamiliar with it–which you probably are–the deal is that all the mini-plays are written by the performers. Some are funny, some are not. Some have a few characters, some are monologues. Some make absolutely no sense. Others make a little. They usually write six to ten a week, and rotate them into the menu. Then, as the show is going on, the audience members shout out numbers that are hanging up on a clothesline, and whichever number is loudest is the play they do next.

And they do all of this very, very quickly.

One of the plays I got to see during my time downtown was called September 12th. In it, the lone actor sat in a chair, going through all the motions of driving, and talking about the day after the World Trade Center fell. It was a good day, he maintained, because for that one day, we all cared. We drove a little more carefully, let the other driver go first. We actually remembered that every other car held a real person, and that person was valuable.

Last Wednesday, all our neighbors were out together, shoveling out each other’s cars so the snowplow could clear the parking lots, watching the kids claim their mountains of snow, and carefully directing traffic. I was beginning to get that same kind of feeling.

Until, of course, a giant SUV pulled out from behind a mound of snow onto the through road and honked at me for not stopping.

Eh, close enough.

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One Response to “On emergencies”

  1. Jake February 7, 2011 at 1:54 pm #

    I completely agree with your take. I generally feel the same way, but people always try and make you feel guilty because you like a break from the routine, just because it’s dangerous.

    I hate the idea of someone getting hurt, but situations like this make it feel like you live in a different world, if only for a few days.

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