2008.09.04 Hurricane season: Stock up on chocolate

Written by David Green.

By COLLEEN LEDDY

Lately, my family members have not quite chastised me, but they sure have been getting impatient. Only Ben hasn’t had any negative words and that’s only because he was out of the country on his honeymoon and we couldn’t get through to him.

It was a bit tumultuous last week as we followed the hurricane news from Rozee and waited to hear from Ben on his honeymoon in the Dominican Republic, right next to Haiti. He didn’t return calls. I guess he couldn’t return calls since his phone wasn’t set up for international use.

• Several times I told Maddie to give him a call—the kids can all call each other for free since they’re on a family plan, but David and I are still dinosaurs with a land line and a pay-as-you-go cell phone that doesn’t have service in Morenci.

“He’s on his honeymoon!” she said in disbelief. “I’m not calling him on his honeymoon!”

“They could be dead!” I said “Don’t you want to know?” But she would not be moved.

• Rozee and I spoke on the phone during the day Friday and emailed back and forth about when she and Taylor would leave New Orleans. She spoke of her fellow research assistant’s roommates who had decided to stay just to see what a hurricane was like, and then she emailed about the quandary facing officials.

“They are considering a mandatory evacuation tomorrow which means we'll want to leave before that or else we'll be in traffic for hours. It's really sticky because if they do the evacuation and then it doesn't hit then people won't evacuate in the future because it's so expensive. But if they don't and it does and the same thing happens...”

I emailed back in response to that and her friend’s roommates.

“What's wrong with people?!!! You don't take chances after a Katrina! And if it’s not a Katrina, you consider it a little vacation and ‘oh well’ about all the money it cost! They have to bear the cost of an evacuation after Katrina...it’s senseless not to be cautious.”

She emailed back a long explanation, the sociological point of view.

“Well it’s just like Katrina—end of the month and people don’t have money....and then there are all the things you have to pay for to leave. Taylor’s oil change was $50 and mine was $40 plus $10 for a repair on a tire that’s getting low and 2 tanks of gas plus the extra gas can we’re bringing and gas to get to northern Mississippi. And then you're supposed to empty your fridge in case power goes out so if you don’t have a big enough cooler to take everything with you then you have to throw stuff away and buy it when you get back. And mostly time is the most expensive thing. Yesterday the wait for an oil change was 5 hours. I got to Walmart at 6:45 this morning and the line was already to the street (they opened at 7) and I didn't get up to where they take your keys and you can leave your car until 8:15....And now I’m spending today doing laundry and cleaning and getting things off the floor. A lot of people can’t afford to miss a day of work. If you’re middle class then it makes sense to just go and take the hit financially, but a lot of people who live here can’t do that.”

I felt a little sheepish after reading that.

• We were at the office last Monday  and David was talking about Tyler Rupp from Fayette. Something about some college kid who went to Japan.

I was half-listening. That’s pretty good for me. Often when he’s talking about something I am distracted by something else. Maybe I’m reading a newspaper, maybe I’m just lost in thought, worrying about when Ben and Sarah will go to Abu Dhabi or if a hurricane is going to strike New Orleans before Rozee and Taylor get out.

It takes me a minute or two to get out of my reverie and by then he’s on to something else. But he was talking about something that was going in the paper and I didn’t think a page had been reserved for it yet.

“What was that? What did you say about a kid going to Japan? I thought you said there was a story about someone going to Guatemala,” I said.

“I know I told you about it already. You just weren’t listening,” he said, annoyed.

“I don’t remember hearing anything about somebody going to Japan. Must be you told your other wife,” I said.

“No, I know I didn’t tell her anything,” he said, as if he really did have another wife.

There was a message on the answering machine Friday night from Rozee. She sounded a little worn out while telling of their plans to leave New Orleans before Hurricane Gustav hit.

“Just letting you know we are leaving the city. We’re going to Clarksdale, Mississippi, tonight. I think it’s a five hour drive. It’s a little after 7:30 p.m. here so I guess we’ll get in late.”

And then her voice brightened. “But we have dark chocolate! Talk to you later, bye.”

Redemption for me! I raised a child smart enough to know that if you’re going to evacuate, make sure you have dark chocolate.

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