Sunday, April 26, 2009

Tornadic (and Pedantic) Sprinting . . .

The rain pounded the whole drive up Central.  The tornado sirens whaled in the background.  The radio promised certain doom for all those that would dare leave the safety of a basement or shelter.

I pressed on.  I'm in my second tornado season here in Kansas.  I ain't scared of nuttin' (except the tornado damage I've seen first hand in my time here, of course).  

Perhaps these weather idiots had a valid argument.  This was not going to by my ordinary Sunday grocery run.  

I could barely see the lane lines to my right and/or left and the cars that I passed (or that passed me) sprayed huge tidal waves of rain, leaves and muck up in the air.  The wind pushed against my car in a way that made me hesitant to get too close to a neighboring car - just in case Morpheus the Matrix lost his will go to straight.

I pulled in to Dillon's parking lot and considered my options.  

A) Turn back now and wait out the storm
B) Park the car, climb through the car and get an umbrella out of the back
C) Park as close to the store as possible and run.  Yes.  I.  Said.  Run!

I was too lazy to go all the way home and come all the way back and we have not been grocery shopping in weeks (my parents were here so we did a lot of "for tonight" shopping and ate out a fair amount too, etc.).  I am not the guy to climb through the car and I was not even sure there were umbrellas back there anyway (there are - three of them - it turns out).  My only real option was to park the car, zip up my 1/4 zip fleece (also known as a sweatshirt to those that don't speak cataloguese), make sure my navy blue Chucks were tightly double knotted, tuck my grocery list away in my back khaki pocket and ensure that my foot course was clear.

Perfect.  Some scared soccer mom is loading in to the minivan in the ninth spot up the row with a straight, sidewalked shot to the front door.  

I pull in.  Zip, knot, tuck and prep.  I do a sign of the cross (like any good idiot I'm happy to bring God in to the conversation when I need some help with something) and ready for the run.

Open the door.  

Jump out.

And I'm OFF.  Darrell Green would have been impressed.  

One foot in front of the other.  Long, powerful, confident strides.  Long spells of time where my entire body was in the air.  Cheetahs panting to catch up with me.  NASCAR drivers wondering what was under my hood.

Down the sidewalk.  






Uh oh.  

Looking ahead I see it.  

Too much rain.

Not enough drainage.  

Puddle is an understatement.  

Owasco Lake is barely larger than this puddle.  

What do I do?

Running too fast to stop before it. 

Not sure enough of my body to try to direct my course.










Through the air.

The first fifteen feet (?) weren't the issue.  I flew with ease.  Over the puddle.  Almost in slow motion.  Waving hello to ducks and boaters below me.  Soaring like a bird.  Then.  Gravity starts to take over.

I realized this would be a rough landing.  My feet were not ready for that first step in the water.  Which foot should I plant?  How deep is the water?  Is it cold?  I'm not wearing socks.  No time to think.  No time to act.


Right foot.

Left foot pushing through the air.

Left foot never touches the ground.

Right knee not impressed with being forced in to bracing my body in to a puddle.  Decides to "strike".  Hits ground instead.  Left hip right behind.  Elbows split seconds behind that.  I'm missing the graceful ease of my run and my initial jump.

I'm on the ground.  Skidding (more accurately) on the ground.  

"Keep your chin up, pretty man."  I think to myself.  

I'm wet.  I'm scared that pain is coming.  I'm laying in the middle of a roadway in near white-out rains.  I am suddenly aware of 20 people standing ten feet in front of me watching the storm - and me - and plotting their exit to their cars.

I pick myself up.  Inspect my pants and sweatshirt elbows.  Rub my chin.  Pick up my glasses.  Walk the rest of the way across the street and under the protection of the overhang where they keep the shopping carts.

No one speaks to me.  They all look.  At least they are not laughing.  I hear a woman lean close to her husband and simply ask "You still sure you want to run to the car?  Or do you want to go inside, get some Starbucks and wait this out?"  

Starbucks sounds good to me too, sir.  

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