Wednesday, June 04, 2008

DC snapshot

by J J Cohen

We had a little bit of bad weather here in DC today.

My son Alexander is in his final week of serving on his elementary school's Safety Patrol, a job that comes with a shiny badge, the power to move orange cones from storage to the street, and the power to tell kids younger than him WALK DO NOT RUN. I knew he'd be standing outside of his school just as a strong line of storms with a possible tornado was about to sweep through DC. I ran from my house, flew like a banshee (or some other vaguely medieval but very swift creature) to the school (a ten minute walk that I accomplished in 2.5 minutes), grabbed him and all the other Safety Patrol kids and made them RUN DO NOT WALK back into school. In the mass panic that ensued,
  1. the sky turned green
  2. the loudest thunder I have ever heard crashed around us
  3. limbs tumbled from trees
  4. a tempest whirled
  5. rain such as Noah once saw drenched us
We made it inside the school soaking wet, along with many children and parents who had likewise been caught. The power went out and we were plunged into darkness. I used the radiance of my iPhone to calm the kiddies til the emergency generator turned on. We were then moved to a windowless computer lab because a funnel cloud had been spotted. Children were crying, it was dark, it was suffocatingly warm. And here is where I learned something amazing about Alex (besides the fact that has good taste in literature); he soothed the smallest kids by telling them it was going to be OK. He stroked their backs and mussed their hair. He smiled at them, even though none of us felt like smiling.

The storms passed quickly, and thirty minutes later we were home. Alex walked through the door, collapsed on the floor, and broke down in tears. He could only be brave for so long.


highlyeccentric said...

oh my.

Your son is pretty damn awesome. (And he does have good taste in literature.)
Ten points to Griffindor for Alex Cohen :D

Jennifer Lynn Jordan said...

What a brave kid! And what a great dad!

Eileen Joy said...

Jeffrey: what a great story about Alex. My sister and I were caught in the same storm on the Rock Creek Parkway--it was a nightmare. We eventually holed up in a restaurant in Cleveland Park [Dino] so we could drink quartin after quartin of wine and then water started pouring through the ceiling light fixtures right over our table. What a day/night.

Jeffrey Cohen said...

We live in an area so sensitive to power outages that if someone passes gas too heartily, a tree limb falls and the lights go out. By some miracle we did not lose power last night ... but the neighborhood in general did, including my son's school. That means his fifth grade graduation ceremony is canceled tonight. And as I drove along Mass Ave on my way into campus, I noticed that about 50% of the traffic signals are not working. Fun!

Highly Eccentric, I'd make the ten points to Griffindor joke to him, but he'd zap me with a lightning book. He has forbidden me from doing my Snape imitation anywhere near him ("Pawttah!")

Glad you and your sister are OK, Eileen. A good friend of mine had her car swept away on Rock Creek a few years ago when it flooded.

Dr. Virago said...

Oh goodness! And I second what Jennifer said: what a brave kid! what a great dad!

Karl Steel said...

Perhaps not a good time to revisit The Wizard of Oz? Or perhaps it is?

My admiration to A and JJC: good work, both of you!