what do you call it when every time you see a cloud you run screaming in the opposite direction?

23 04 2010

Almost a year ago, we moved here from Arizona.  After U-Haul totally dicked us over the day before our departure, we packed everything we could into our car, the rest into storage, and hit the road.  Despite being crammed into a car with two young children, it was a somewhat pleasant drive.  We tried to stop and see the cool roadside attractions– You know, large balls of twine, cars planted vertically in the ground, dead bodies in New Mexico culverts…

AND THEN WE HIT TEXAS.

It was an overcast early afternoon when we stopped for lunch in Amarillo.  (We had steak.  What else do you eat in Texas?)  Our goal was to hit Joplin, MO that night as I’d reserved a hotel room there.  So we get back on the road after lunch, and having blocked our intestines with massive quantities of red meat, I thought we’d definitely make it since bathroom stops were no longer necessary.

So we were tooling along I-40, about 30 minutes east of Amarillo when the clouds suddenly darkened, dropped, and started moving.  Within two minutes, not one second more, the weather had gone from overcast and stagnant to death and destruction.  A funnel cloud dropped down about 100 feet to the left of the driver-side door.  My eyes widened, I gripped the steering wheel and sped up to 95mph.  A second funnel cloud appeared about 100 feet to the right of the passenger-side door.  It started raining, not cats and dogs but buffalo and camels.  I could now see about 10 feet in front of the car.  I slowed down but questioned– Do I slow down?  Do we suffer death by tornado or death by car accident?  Choices, choices.

After exiting the highway to attempt to find an overpass to take shelter under, we started getting hit with golf-ball-sized hail.  This woke the kids up from their afternoon nap (Because yes, I had been cursing in fear but I was doing so in a whisper so as not to wake the kids.  Better they die while asleep.) and my son, four at the time, looked out the window and asked, completely calm and collected, “Hey, is that a tormato?  Are we going to die?”

Having found no overpass to die beneath, I got back on I-40 headed back west.  I saw flashing lights through the rain/hail; We were being directed to a tornado shelter about two miles away.  When we got to it, having outrun the worst of the weather, we dashed inside and waited since it was headed our way.  The calm was eery.  No one but us was panicked.  Actually, maybe no one but me.

Nothing passed directly over the tornado shelter.  It passed about a mile south.  We talked to a trucker who nearly had his trailer (well, his trailer, truck, and him) sucked into it.  We were able to go outside and snap a picture as it disintegrated across the highway.  I wondered how close it came to the tail end of our car as I had barreled down the highway twenty minutes earlier.

The shelter staff fed my kids Snickers bars.  They were sweet ladies but I’d like to avoid seeing them again.  We went on our merry way.

AND THEN WE HIT OKLAHOMA.  Repeat paragraphs four through six, but also add that our hotel in Joplin was booked out to storm chasers despite us having a reservation and being forced by weather and fear to stop in a wide spot in the road in Who Knows Where, OK and camp for the night while we watched news reports of F4 tornados surrounding us and everyone else within three states.

*

I know that whole ordeal wasn’t so bad.  We survived without a scratch (the same cannot be said for the car, though) and all that really happened was that I got seriously scared.

But now I can’t see a low-hanging cloud without internally freaking out.  I have tornadic post-traumatic stress disorder.  Tornado season is starting up and even though they are pretty rare where I live, it happens.  My son just learned tornado safety and drills in his class.  The weather channel today issued tornado warning for the southeast.  That’s not near me.  But the anxiety has set in a little.  I’ll be glued to the weather channel now through September.  I know it’s ridiculous.  I want to punch me in the head.

*

Do you have any weird or irrational fears/anxieties?

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12 responses

23 04 2010
acm

Awe, honey, this is not an irrational fear. You were traumatized, and that’s understandable. Eventually, you’ll come to realize that NOT all low hanging clouds mean deathly tormatoes and you’ll be fine!!
And irrational fear, for example, is for example, the one I have of twins. Identical twins freak me out. If I see two of them together at the same time, I get very anxious and uncomfortable. Don’t ask me, why, I don’t know, but it’s WEIRD, isn’t it?

23 04 2010
sarcasmically

So, I shouldn’t email you pictures of my identical twin brothers?

23 04 2010
Holmes

I don’t like it when pencils or scissors or other sharp objects are left sitting on a table pointing towards me. I’m just certain a poltergeist is going to throw them at me.

23 04 2010
Flippy

This sounds pretty weird, but I’ve had this insane fear of things attacking me while I sleep. I remember reading about camel spiders, (Nom noming on me while I sleep? Yeah. NO.) and other creepy crawlies that are parasitic. There was a couple month period I couldn’t sleep, and I would stand in the middle of my room, broom in hand, ready to beat the shit out of some spiders, (Just FYI, they live in the Middle East and can’t survive here) that don’t even live on my continent. So yeah, irrational fear fist pound.

23 04 2010
animalcrackers

How much time do you have? Bees, my house burning down, my cats clawing each others’ eyes out, cancer, multiple calls without a voicemail… Oh yes, a collection of calm over here.

23 04 2010
wendryn

I was in a car accident one in which we spun across the freeway. I saw, in one of those frozen moments, the grill of an 18 wheeler bearing down on us. Ever since then I’ve been very worried about trucks on the freeway.

You aren’t being irrational. It will just take a while to adjust to the new “death can come out of the skies!” idea. 😛

23 04 2010
Annika

Yeah, so not irrational. Are you perhaps overreacting to perfectly normal clouds? Yes, probably. But trauma is a pretty good reason for that.

23 04 2010
NTM

First, here is the pragmatic side of me – the chances of a tornado affecting you where you are now and anywhere near there for like 500 miles is extremely slim…touchdowns in this area are like grazings mostly where a few trees are toppled over and some high winds stir up stuff. Very little real destruction or damage… So if you think you have the odds to get hurt by a tornado here then you should also go get a lottery ticket and we can all move to another latitude! 🙂

Ok, now for the “irrational” me. Among other things (like dust on my electronics, spiders, etc which you already know)…I’m extremely afraid of and paranoid of anything like grease, dirt, other liquids, etc getting on my hands and face. I hate eating food with my hands because I’m afraid the “food residue” will transfer from my hands to my face. I don’t like anything or anyone to get anything near my face that is sticky, greasy, etc..
The weird thing is that I’m not even sure what will happen when something like that occurs, I just know that I’m terrified of it and do everything to try to keep it from happening! It actually freaks me out sometimes when I look at the screens on my iProducts and see how “disgusting” they are…if they weren’t so f’ing iFantastic I wouldn’t be able to endure the fingerprints, etc.

23 04 2010
sarcasmically

NTM– La Plata 2002. Harford County 2007. Please pass me a paper bag to breathe into.

23 04 2010
NTM

LOL As long as it’s not a greasy fast food bag, cause then I’ll get “food residue” on my hands and it could transfer to my face…LMAO I’m so insane.

23 04 2010
Kim

Oh. Yes. I do understand this and you are not off base. I have lots of stories and have a totally diagnosable anxiety disorder but there are some specifics; back in 2002 I was in two accidents within 6 months of each other. In the second one I was sideswiped and driving after that was *really* hard for a long time. I kept seeing cars coming to sideswipe me that were not there.

This past December I had a harrowing snow drive that we accidentally drove right into and it was … I think I posted about it but oh my God. Never again. Snow in the forecast and I don’t care if I am driving to a date with Josh Homme (of Queens of the Stone Age) where he promises he will make out with me, I will stay home.

5 05 2010
Michael

I’m firmly in the “not irrational at all” camp. Being that close to a twister sounds terrifying.

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