Never thought I’d miss monotony
by Tom Schoenfelder
Most days, I complain about how boring life can be. This wasn’t one of those times. It all began with a trip to a baseball mecca on Memorial Day. One of my best friends from back home moved up to the Boston area, so I planned a trip to go see my hometown Phillies play the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park; the stadium exceeded my expectations.
Before my only thoughts on the stadium were about the awkward foul pole and giant wall. However, visiting it was closer to being at a museum or castle than actually watching a baseball game. There was something about its old-school atmosphere that made it feel less corporate than other ballparks I’ve been to.
The next part of my week long adventure included a 6 am, Thursday morning flight to Dallas, then a three hour drive to the tornado-impacted area of Moore, Oklahoma. Once I arrived in Moore, I immediately started helping in the relief efforts, knowing that the day would be cut short because of the impending thunderstorms.
My responsibilities included clearing out debris from homes and dragging it to the street. While volunteering gave me a warm feeling inside, yet it was depressing to see the possessions these families had worked for their entire lives, demolished in a blink of an eye. The most shocking realization for me was seeing one home virtually fine and its neighboring home, which only had the foundation left. As I expected, the thunderstorm cut my day short and caught a ride back to the volunteer headquarters in the back of a pick-up.
I arrived at the hotel and get two steps in front of my room when the siren goes off. I ran downstairs to the hotels conference center and hungout with the hundreds of FEMA and Red Cross people, until they told us that the tornado never came close to hitting us, but it was better to be safe than sorry.
The next day I woke up and help with the recovery efforts again. Someone found an old baseball card and baseball when clearing out what used to be a shed and placed it on a table, so I had to take a picture of it.
As the day progressed, we all caught wind that another large tornado was going to happen, so the day ended early again. This gave me time to explore the town I was staying in, Norman, Oklahoma. I walked around the OU campus and saw what appeared to be a baseball themed restaurant. The place was called Diamond Dogs and specialized in, as you’d expect, hot dogs. I went with the “Wonder Boy” – a corndog with Captain Crunch in the breading. I’ll be taking a trip back to Oklahoma for those hot dogs. While at dinner, I asked the guy if we’ll get hit by the tornado: His response, “Norman never gets hit”. Good call.
At this point, I felt great and looked forward to heading back to the hotel to write this blog entry. I turned on the TV, only to see another storm starting to head my way. I do the only logical thing, walk down to the hotel bar and strike up a conversation with the guy next to me, who was from Oklahoma. He said the best thing to do is to drive south and avoid the tornado, which led me to ask why he was still at the hotel. He said he didn’t have his truck, so I told him he was in luck. About this time, I regretted not getting the sports car as my rental. The alarm goes off, and when hundreds of people from the hotel start walking back to conference room, we leave.
It’s the calm before the storm, and there’s an eerie feeling as I start driving south. We stop off at a town about 20 miles south where the tornado wasn’t predicted to hit. Wrong. The owner of the bar where we stopped gets a phone calling saying we should leave. We walk outside as the sirens start blaring and people start running. The closest thing I could compare it to would be a Godzilla movie, where everyone is looking up and there’s a sense of panic. Dark clouds split the evening sky like a black and white cookie. We start driving away from the tornado’s direction, down a road with a closed road sign. I get to the dead end. I get out to relinquish my bladder on a tree when the owner of the cattle ranch invites us inside. We walk inside, have a cup of coffee and watch as the storm starts to pass. Once the brunt of the storm misses us, I drive safely back to the hotel. There, we return only to find that there was no reason to leave; the building was fine. Everyone in the hotel acted like nothing happened, while I got back from the adventure with a story of a lifetime.