Sunday, October 08, 2006

My Mom Made A Funny

While my chili is cooling, I'd like to tell you a story. When my mother called for the second time during our chemical explosion disaster (seen right), she made a funny. I didn't laugh. I should have, and here's why.


If there was anything you could say about my parents, it was that they were prepared. They rationed our M&Ms and McDonald's french fries, but they were prepared. We had a secret word (no I'm not going to tell you what it is just in case I ever have to use it), and we knew about stranger danger.

All throughout my childhood, my parents did drills. Yes, drills. Fire drills, tornado drills, and even chemical spill drills. There were many afternoons in the small, farm town of Albany, Ohio, that you could find many wriggling Yeagley kids climbing out a one-story window, handing off toddlers and pre-schoolers, while my dad sounded the fire alarm. Or sitting in my brother's blue closet in the very center of our little house, facing the wall with heads of messy ponytails between our knees and hands over our heads. We had a pre-determined spot in our yard away from the house to meet so that my parents could "count heads" and see who was still left in the house. We have still never had a fire, but my sister has seen at least one tornado.

One warm, sunny Sunday afternoon when I was about ten years old, the phone rang. "Hullo, Yeagley residence," I said just like we'd all practiced. On the other end of the line, a man's voice said, "Hello, this is ________, and I just heard on the radio that there was a train accident behind your house. There were chemicals on the train that spilled and you need to leave your house right now. Tell your parents." "Okay," I said. Stunned, I told my parents what the man said. We had already put on our shoes, and my parents said we had to hurry to get out of the house. So six kids went flitting about the house, like fruit flies around a banana left two days too long on the kitchen counter. My parents, loaded up our ugly, carpeted, white van with our 72-hour kit filled with emergency medical supplies, ponchos, water, granola bars, and the like. We kids tried to gather up everything we might logically need for a chemical spill by our house; blankies, toys, and what not.

While the van was being loaded with stuff and kids, I was frantically searching the garage for our orange tiger cat, Kitty. My mother was buckling kids and
our collie, Spooky, was barking at the promise of a fun van ride. Fearing the worst, I kept screaming that I needed to find the cat. And my mother said, "He's fine, he's low to the ground. Get in the van." So worried that he might jump on my dad's workbench and meet certain death, I reluctantly climbed in the van. I could not forgive my mother for making me leave the cat behind.

As we were pulling out of the driveway, (cat-less I might add), we asked my parents why there were no cops or other first responders. They replied that we were so fast that we had beat the police. They weren't too far off. We did make it out of the house in about five minutes. We drove around the big cornfields, which were across the street from our house, and out onto the state highway. We made our first left into Lake Snowden Recreation Park. We asked why Lake Snowden. It didn't seem that we were far enough away from the spill, for heaven's sake, we could still see our house across the cornfields. My parents told us that we were far enough away and that we could camp here until the spill was cleaned up.

Fortunately we were only there for a few minutes before they came clean and told us it was a DRILL. We camped over night and ate out of our 72-hour kit that they had prepared. My mom cheated the next morning and went home for eggs and OJ. We had a blast camping with the dog and without the poor cat, which would have met his certain doom.


So you see, I was prepared for our chemical explosion. I had remembered the drill. And when my mom called me the second time, she asked, "If you get evacuated, will you leave the cat behind since he's low to the ground?" I should have laughed; after all, I had immediately thought of the drill when Scott woke me up to tell me what was going on. Instead, I huffed and puffed and told her all about how I was GOING to pack up the cat in his kennel, and head to Phil's house... and I told her about all the trauma from the Hurricane Katrina pets that had been euthanised and re-adopted.

Yes, her joke was not totally lost on me, but I had not laughed. When I relayed the story to Phil later, she immediately laughed at me and the joke. She called my mother to tell her what she thought of the situation. My mom made a disaster funny and I didn't laugh.

To this day, all the Yeagleys are prepared for fire, tornado, and chemical spill. We eat all the M&Ms and french fries that we want. We take our pets with us. And now I'm laughing and I'm happily eating the oatmeal chocolate chip cookies that I made during our disaster (since all we could do was stay home with the windows closed and the HVAC off).


K&B Brown said...

very funny! so funny that I read it aloud to people who are watching tv and don't care. I still laughed really loud and a lot.

Karen B said...

I am glad you can see the humor in things now. It was a very funny joke.

Ann said...

Your mom is funny! And I'm quite impressed with all the drills as children- especially the elaborate train accident one. (Poor kitty!!) It makes me realize we need to start filling our kids in on emergency stuff. The grown ups are fairly prepared, but not the kids...

CarrierFamily said...

Thanks for the props Karin! I consider it a high compliment for me and my mother.

Ann, did you guys not participate in some of our drills? Do you remember the tornado drills in elementary school?

Emily said...

We didn't have as eloborate of drills in the Stewart home, but we did have a secret word. I told AJ what it is, too.

I like your folks. Keep on with the fries & M&Ms.