Monday, June 04, 2007

School Closing!

"A teachers strike, a power failure, a blizzard... Anything that'll
cancel school tomorrow. I know it's asking a lot, but if anyone can do
it, You can! Thanking You in advance, Your pal, Bart Simpson."

When the phone rings after 9pm or before 8am, I always wonder if something horrible is wrong, if someone died... if we have to pack quickly for a funeral. This morning was no different.

Doug was rushing around to get ready to leave. On rainy days, the commute into Boston can be hell. He was already 10 minutes later than he should have been on any other given day. I had three dogs in the bed with me, curled up, at total peace. The phone rings. Doug is too busy trying to find his brown hiking boot for his 20 minute walk from the parking garage to his office (it was raining, so he didn't want to wear his dress shoes). I was ... surrounded by the comfort of warm dogs on a cold morning.

So no one picked it up.

It rings immediately again... Jeesh, someone really wants to get ahold of us. I manage to wiggle out of the bed as I hear Doug peel out of the driveway. Jess picked up an extension of the phone in her room (the ringer was off but she heard it ringing through the house) just as I found the phone by the computer. It was a friend of hers from school letting her know there was a 2 hour delay.

"I don't know, my mom heard there is no power at the high school and middle school and that part of (town X) has had no power since the storm on Saturday. So they're working on it and hope to have school open after the delay. Call everyone you know. Spread the word."


I hung up and tried to access the highschool or district website, both are down. I looked for a listing on one of the many Boston area TV station websites but saw nothing.

Then, I started thinking, what if this was a senior prank that was being played on the kids... wouldn't that be something. Perpetuate a school closing, start making phone calls until the trickle down makes it to a goodly amount of the kids. What's funnier is a two hour delay, because kids would go back to sleep and then go out to the bus stop at 8:30 or 9 to wait for the bus and it wouldn't be there.

Oh, that'd be rich.

So the phone rings again. It's the same girl... she's very very UP in the morning and talks as fast as I type.

"I'm sorry to keep calling, I just want to make sure that Jess understood, she didn't seem too awake..."

I told her I had picked up the extension and heard the call so I understood, even if Jess didn't. And then I asked her what her source was.

"Well, this person called and that person called and we didn't see it on the news so my mom called the police department in our town and asked and they confirmed it is true. OH! there it is. It's on the news I'm watching the news right now on channel five and there it is..." (mind you, she is RACING through this conversation at about 10,000 words per second... and I'm dizzy from listening. I pull up that station's website and there it is -- just posted nice and fresh.

Two hour delay.

I pick up the phone and call a couple of neighbors. I tell them where I am seeing the news. The phone starts ringing again, more kids calling, more questions, Geoff yelling that it is not fair that SHE gets no school for two hours but HE has to go to stupid school and ...

ring ring yell coffee ring... all before 7am.

I email the office to let them know I'll be late.

I don't have to stay for Jess. She's old enough and incredibly responsible enough that I can trust her to get ready and get out for a 2 hour delay. But I know her -- she went back to bed.

And she is just like me. She falls right back asleep and goes into THAT sleep. You know that kind of sleep, when you get up and are dressed and lay back down and go to sleep again and you immediately slip into that unbelievably deep abyss of phenomenal sleep... and you didn't set the clock because you're only going to just snooze a bit. Surely some noise (like the truck jake brake that just went off outside the house, or the dogs barking at the neighbors, or another kid calling to find out what's the deal with school being closed) will wake your slumbering ass up.

She's just like me, and I knew that if I walked out the door at the normal time, that she'd be asleep and not wake up in time to get out to the bus.

So I make more coffee, get a shower, surf blogs.

The phone just started ringing again... School is now officially closed for the day. She's on the couch, dressed and ready, and now she doesn't need to head out there. She's kind of mad that they just didn't make that decision right off the bat. If they haven't had power since Saturday, what made them think they'd have things juiced up in time for the kids to GET to school?

I called the neighbors who are so relieved because the daughter didn't fully complete her project that was due today, so she buys an extra day to polish it up and refine it. Jess gets some quiet time to herself to study for finals, which start on Thursday. And now I'm off to work... to the litany of phone ringing and excited 14 year old girl jibberjabber on the line.

We had quite a storm up this way on Saturday. Geoff and I were home alone and Doug had driven out to Salisbury to pick Jess up at a party at a friend's house. The storm basically passed right over where they were, but the bulk of the damage was in our town and the towns surrounding us, as evidenced in the school closing and power loss today over in the next town (we're a regional school district, so our high school and middle school cover three towns).

Geoff and the dogs were freaking out from the storm. I shut everything down -- computer TV everything, and fired up the battery operated radio. I had to throw Gonzo and Brodie into their kennels because they were so disturbed by the storm, which was more violent than anything I remember in years. Geoff was running through the house screaming his head off. I was literally seconds away from grabbing him and running into the basement.

It was that scary. And I honestly have never been THAT weather scared before in my life. Midwestern readers are probably laughing at me right now, but it was honest to God the most brick-in-the-pants inducing terror I've ever felt in my life. The only thing that kept me from grabbing the boy and dogs and jetting to the basement was that I was waiting for the firehouse down the street to run the siren. I was convinced this was the signal that I'd need to run from the tornado. But the siren never went off, and a tornado never touched down.

Doug eventually made it home and said that he thought he saw funnels starting in his rear view mirror on the way back west here from Salisbury. The sky behind him was green black, just like storm skies he remembers from western PA and Ohio growing up. He said he hasn't seen that in years.

The news said that the thunderstorm produced micro-bursts which downed trees and flattened things, but no actual tornado hit. You wouldn't know it driving through a couple of the towns.

I'm proud that I didn't actually poop my pants, or freak out badly enough that I cried. I'm glad we had batteries and supplies, and that if I needed to we could have hidden under the arch of the huge fireplace structure in the basement. That could withstand anything. I'm proud that I had the wherewithal to get my act together and be prepared even though I was alone. I could do this without Doug with me. I am glad he and Jess didn't get swept up in the VW and blown three counties north.

All told -- that was the scarediest I've been in a really long time. And I am glad that I lived through that scared feeling, got a grip, knew what to do, and don't want to have to do it again anytime soon.


Alright -- School is canceled, I'm off to work. More later.

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