Wednesday, February 22, 2012

It's an Age Thing

This morning, while getting ready for work, I heard a siren. Now, I live in the 'burbs of Chicago and 2 blocks west of and 4 blocks east of, two major north-south streets where the fire and emergency vehicles generally run. To hear a siren is not an uncommon occurrence. If it gets really loud and you start to see red and blue lights, then you go look, but otherwise, you notice the noise but it does not interrupt your day.

I also live 4 blocks from the tornado siren. On the first Tuesday of every month, that siren is tested at 10 a.m. unless it's the summer and tornado watches/warnings are in the area. Then they wait for the next week.

I do pay attention to the siren in the summer. There is a theory that the skyscrapers of Chicago prevent formation of tornadoes by interrupting the air flow near the lake. While tornadoes are uncommon, they aren't rare and every summer can produce 3-4 reliable sightings even if they never touch down.

So, this morning's siren was very noticeable. It's not tornado weather, not in the least. We got snow last night with rain, sleet and snow predicted over the next 3 days. Why would it be sounding on a Wednesday, at 7:45 a.m.? I could call the police station if I was really curious but I didn't think that was adviseable.

I'm of a certain age where I remember the above sign on buildings around my hometown. In the lunch room of my high school, this sign was on the wall next to a locked door. I remember asking someone, can't remember whom, what that sign meant. That person said if we were ever attacked by the Russians, people could find these places where food and water was stored and could then survive. I accepted this as fact and, at the time I would have asked this question, this was accepted as fact. I remember vague instructions on what to do if the "air raid sirens" went off. That's what they were called, "air raid sirens". This is a direct hold over from World War II when heeding the sirens was a necessity.

Today, if I said I heard the air raid siren go off, I'd be looked at as a quack, if anyone even knew what I was talking about. I pondered this as I left the house and the siren went off again. There wasn't a sound from the siren to my east, which I can hear. I found myself looking to the skies. In this day and age of so much nationalistic hate and the knowledge that people don't like us just because of where we live, the idea that we could be attacked by the air is not improbable. It happened once. It possibly could happen again.

I also wondered what others thought when they heard the siren. Did they stop at all? Did they find it annoying or perplexing? Or are they of a certain age, like me, who heard the siren and had their mind harken back to a different time when Duck and Cover was taught in school?

Beverage:  African Rooibos tea


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