Maybe the Thanksgiving Magic will Stick Around

barry currin, stories of a world gone mad, beaverdamusa.comI was busy last week.

It started last Sunday with an all-day obligation. Then, three of the five weekdays had both before- and after-work functions on top of lots of meetings in between.

Over the weekend, I was looking at my calendar for this week and delighted in seeing only two appointments, which were both on Monday. I couldn’t believe it.

I closed my eyes and imagined all the things I would accomplish.

I would be able to flesh out some of my big ideas that perpetually get pushed forward because of more pressing obligations.

I might clean off my desk. Or, maybe I would put all the files in their correct folders on my laptop.

I might even rest one afternoon.

Oh, boy, I was excited.

After about 15 seconds, though, my excitement was overtaken by another feeling.

There it was highlighted in light blue on my calendar, right smack dab on the middle of Thursday:

Thanksgiving Day.

Inexplicably, I had forgotten for a couple of minutes this was Thanksgiving week.

I can blame this on a couple of things. First, being self-employed means I don’t have upcoming days off circled in red on the calendar anymore. Second, our child is toughing it out in the Mediterranean for 9 months, so he won’t be with us for the first time in 24 Thanksgivings.

My disappointment at losing what might’ve been a relaxing week gave way to good feelings fairly quickly because I love Thanksgiving.

One of my favorite slivers of the year is Thanksgiving evening when too much food on top of the exhaustion of helping get everything ready gives way to a blissful semi-comatose state for a few hours.

As you know, though, the preparation for Thanksgiving can be pretty stressful.

First is the trip to the grocery store. Looking for a parking place and dealing with the hordes of people who apparently only grocery shop once a year is not for the faint of heart.

For me, the proposition of thawing the turkey isn’t much fun. I am in charge of cooking the meat, so this one hits home with me. 

One day too long thawing in the fridge, and I am convinced I’m going to put my heaving family on the national news. My bigger fear, however, is tossing a half-frozen tom on the smoker and having to explain to everyone why the Thanksgiving meal is a midnight snack this year.

I don’t love getting the turkey ready to cook. I always think maybe those vegetarians have a point when I’m pulling out all those little sacks of things. It’s like clowns pouring out of a car. There always seems to be one more giblet hiding in there somewhere.

All the stress and anxiety is worth it, though, when we sit around the table and tell what we’re thankful for.

I feel pretty lucky when thawing a turkey is among my biggest problems. Sometimes, I feel guilty because of it.

Not everyone has a feast. Not everyone drives to grandma’s house or has a yard full of cars in their driveway on Thanksgiving Day.

I tend to think more about those less fortunate this time of year, and I suspect we all do.

Maybe next Thanksgiving I will be proud of myself for keeping that Thanksgiving feeling alive all year long.

This Certainly Hasn’t Been the Year of the Dog

According to the Chinese calendar, this is the year of the rooster.

I didn’t know that until just a few minutes ago, but based on what I’ve seen this year, I surely knew we weren’t in the year of the dog.

Ginger is our geriatric beagle; and Ginger has had a tough run of luck this year.

Last winter, she lost her littermate and soulmate of 15 years, MaryAnn. During that decade and a half they were rarely more than a paw’s distance from each other. Their food bowls touched. They slept in the same crate every night.

We were all heartbroken when MaryAnn died, but it was Ginger who lost the most.

It wasn’t long after that we realized Ginger couldn’t hear. MaryAnn had been her ears, for years maybe. We’ll never know.

I’m sure being a deaf dog is complicated. But having a deaf dog is complicated as well. It requires lots of arm waving to get her attention. Sometimes she can hear me whistle, but that seems to come and go.

We think her inability to hear is what caused the rift between her and our cat, MacGyver, which I wrote about back in the summer.

We think MacGyver hissed at Ginger, and Ginger didn’t respond appropriately because she didn’t hear her. That probably intimidated MacGyver and made her aggressive.

So, here we have a mourning dog that can’t hear and now has to deal with a mad cat.

How could it get worse for the old girl?

Here’s how. 

Saturday morning, I let Ginger out of her crate to go out. She started walking sideways, stumbled and fell. She immediately got up and it happened again. 

She looked the way Otis Campbell looks when he incarcerates himself into the Mayberry jail on Saturday night.

Always the optimist, I figured it was the end of the line for her.

On the way to the vet, Ginger sat limp in Kim’s lap with her head down flat. Normally, she would’ve been bouncing off the walls of her crate.

barry currin, stories of a world gone mad, beaverdamusa.com

If it’s not someone showing off their rash, it’s two people sitting across the room trying to outdo each other at the top of their lungs bragging about their maladies.

Animals can be just as annoying.

On Saturday, we had to endure two gargantuan dogs trying desperately to break their leashes to get at us.

The poor vet employee was trying her best to restrain them while their owner nonchalantly filled out paperwork and assured us they wouldn’t hurt us.

The vet diagnosed Ginger with vestibular disease, which basically means she cannot keep her balance. The vet told us she would probably get used to it. I can relate to that. I have to get used to age-related things all the time.

She’s getting around a little better, and we don’t have any reason to think she won’t continue to improve. The vet said her head might be permanently tilted to the side, and she will be a little bit slower.

I don’t know what’s going on in her brain, but I have a hunch she is ready to leave 2017 behind.

This Unlikely Marriage? I Give it a Year

barry currin, stories of a world gone mad, beaverdamusa.comGoogle and Walmart are getting married.

This is the best news the cynical side of me has heard in a long time. Here we have the sleek, Silicon Valley technological giant getting hitched to the icon for small-town America.

It’s a tale as old as time. It’s beauty and the beast. It’s a modern-day Sonny Drysdale and Ellie Mae Clampett plot.

The way I understand it, here’s how the engagement unfolded.

A couple of weeks ago, Google announced a new venture to make Walmart products available through Google Express, which is Google’s answer to Amazon.

As part of this program, consumers can order Walmart products by simply speaking their shopping list into their Google Home speaker, which is a little device that sits on the kitchen counter, or wherever.

And somehow, this whole shebang connects to Walmart, and then wham, bam, thank you Sam, your bananas, hamster food, 10W30 and those new brown socks all magically appear at your door.

All you have to do is make sure your bathrobe is cinched for public viewing before you step on your front porch. What could be easier?

I don’t understand how it works, but they say it does. 

Considering my aversion to going to Walmart, I should see this as good news. I just don’t think I — and the other average Joes out there — can wrap our heads around it.

I took a rare trip to Walmart a couple of days ago, and I simply didn’t see a lot of people I thought would be googling their order anytime soon — which includes the person who disappeared after backing into my car and leaving three gashes on the rear bumper. I wonder if it was the same person who backed their scooter into my buggy in produce?

Going to Walmart is an activity for a lot of people. I truly think it borders on entertainment. I just don’t think people are willing to give that up.

When I go, I only go because I need something right at that moment. And usually it’s something, or a combination of things, I don’t believe I could get anywhere else.

And regardless of what it is and where I am going to get it, when I need it, I need it then. I don’t want to log on, type my username and try to remember my password. I don’t want to have to re-enter my payment information because my card they have on file is expired.

And most of all, I don’t want to have to wait three or four days for the fellow in the big truck to bring it to my front door.

I like touching a sock before I buy it. I like picking out my own bananas.

Besides, if people just tell a space-age speaker sitting on their kitchen table what to bring them from Walmart, where are they going to show off their new pajamas? What is going to happen to that People of Walmart website?

The marriage will probably work out fine. The billionaires who cook up schemes like this are  billionaires for a reason.

The wedding will be lavish and the reception will be top notch. I’m just not sure how well goose pate will pair with sweet tea.

Don’t Look to Me for Vols Sports News

barry currin, stories of a world gone mad, beaverdamusa.comBy the time I was a teenager, I knew I wanted to become a newspaper reporter.

I would wear a trench coat and a fedora with a press pass stuck in the band and rendezvous with confidential sources in an alley on cold and rainy winter nights.

Everyone who knew me, however, assumed I would end up being a sports reporter since I was such a born-and-bred University of Tennessee football fan.

I probably would have been a decent sports reporter early in my career. I’m sure I would’ve landed somewhere covering local teams where I didn’t have an interest one way or another.

But of course, if I had taken that route, my goal would’ve been to rise through the ranks and cover the Vols at one of Knoxville’s papers.

I can see my first day playing out something like this.

“Hey, Mr. Sports Editor, here’s my headline, ‘Vols Go Unbeaten, Win National Title Again.’”

“That’s a great headline, except it’s just the first week of the season.”

“I’ll keep it on file.”

Things have changed a lot since then, with so much sports news delivered over the internet.

Every team has a couple dozen fan websites that overanalyze every high ankle sprain and speculate on what the most recent suspension for “violation of team rules” really means.

I follow a few sites that cover UT sports. I like to think I only follow the reputable ones.

Yesterday, however, I was taken aback by a post that talked about who might be Tennessee’s next football coach. Below the headline was a photo collage of three coaches, and one of them was Lane Kiffin.

In case you don’t know, Kiffin was the former Tennessee coach a few years back who lit the program’s still-burning dumpster fire before sneaking out of town in the middle of the night for another job.

Tennessee fans detest him with every drop of orange blood in their veins. Some people dream about winning the lottery. The Big Orange nation dreams about a thirsty Lane Kiffin ringing their doorbell asking for water.

I re-read the headline and held my thumb over the screen while saying, “Don’t click, don’t click, don’t click,” and then I clicked.

According to this story, some nut has made the odds of Tennessee rehiring Kiffin 10,000-to-1. If the odds would’ve been 10,000,000-to-1, it would’ve still been absurd.

Who comes up with this stuff? 

Tennessee would hire a shoe for football coach before they would hire him. I don’t mean a new shoe. I’m talking about an old, worn out and smelly shoe that can’t coach.

It made me mad. In fact, I got so mad I even commented on the post and used the word imbecile, which I never do. I was mad about it all night, and I’m still mad about it.

I’m not sure if I’m madder at the source of the story, who obviously doesn’t have enough to do, or the person running the website who thinks we’re all a bunch of gullible hicks who might buy in to such nonsense.

I’m sure my mood will probably improve pretty quickly, though. After all, if someone can lay odds on Kiffin coaching at Tennessee again, I figure I have a decent shot that he will ring my doorbell asking for water.

Sleep Well Tonight, Fair Citizens; Sleep Well

barry currin, stories of a world gone mad, beaverdamusa.comI am now a superhero.

It happened over the weekend in three unrelated events.

Since only the best superheroes can avert a variety of tragedies, I feel like I’m going in the right direction.

My first act of heroism occurred Saturday afternoon in the Dollar General parking lot. We had been to the store earlier that day and picked up four bags full of stuff, but by afternoon we realized we had forgotten a few things. Obviously, that was before I was a superhero, because superheroes don’t forget the laundry detergent.

At halftime of the Tennessee game, I volunteered to go back. Since I’ve already seen the Vols punt 2,000 or so times this year, I figured I could survive if I missed a minute or two of the second half.

The parking lot slopes away from the building. As soon as I got out of the car, I saw an empty buggy beginning to roll toward the first row of parked cars.

I began walking fast toward it. Then, it started to pick up steam, so I had to break into a full-on trot to save the day.

Out of the corner of my eye I saw an employee come outside with both hands over her mouth and her eyes open wide.

She turned out to be my first damsel in distress.

Incident No. 2 happened Sunday morning at church when I realized at the last minute I was needed to help take up the offering.

It was the first time, incidentally, I had taken up the offering since I was about 12. In the church I grew up in, doing this was a great honor for boys. We even got our names in the bulletin.

I didn’t realize then it was all part of my superhero training.

The third incident of the weekend was by far my most shining moment. Kim made chili Sunday evening, and we had planned all day to eat it while we finished up the series we were watching on Netflix.

When I turned the TV on, I got the dreaded “We’re Having Trouble Playing This Title Right Now” message.

Horrors.

I tried another show, then another, all of which gave me the same message.

So I leapt to my feet, and I raced to turn the machine off. After 5 seconds I turned it back on, and voila. We were watching zombies getting slashed in no time.

Kim said, “My hero,” and I picked up the remote, because what she really said was, “Could you turn it up a little bit?” Don’t worry. She’ll come around.

All superheroes need a name. As you know, the good ones are already taken. I was considering Buggy Catching Man, but like I said, I don’t want to pigeonhole myself into one tragedy when there are so many.

I also really need a cool car. I mean, the Mighty Prius is great, but people rarely gasp and point when I drive by. I need something that makes people gasp and point.

I don’t want to be too flashy, but I want a cape. There again, all the good colors are already spoken for, so I’m still working on that.

If you want to be considered to be my mild-mannered sidekick, let me know.

Successful applicants will have a really cool car.

Social Media Hasn’t Changed Since the Roaring ’20s

barry currin, stories of a world gone mad, beaverdamusa.comLet’s check in with Jedidiah and Effie — sometime during the roaring ‘20s — as they pass the time on social media while sitting around the pot-bellied stove.

Effie: Who does Myrtle think she is?

Jed: What’s she done now?

“Changed her profile picture.”

“Again?”

“A selfie at a speakeasy, no less. She’s got some gall — and look at that flapper dress. How vulgar. Nobody wants to see her arms. I’m going to count how many times she has changed her profile picture over the past three days. Seven! Of all the nerve. I just unfollowed her. Ha! Take that, Myrtle!”

“That is some good looking egg salad.”

“Who posted that?”

“I’ve already scrolled past it. I’ll go back in a minute.”

“You won’t be able to find it. Any time I go back to look for something I’m actually interested in, I can never find it.”

“I know. All I see is Calvin Coolidge this and Calvin Coolidge that.”

“I wish I could hide everything political.”

“I thought it would calm down after the World War.”

“The good news is, it can’t get any worse. Oh, look. Harold just posted a photo of him sitting in the driver’s seat of a brand new Model A. He said, ‘You get a horse, I’ll get this instead, lol.’ I just loved it.”

“You can like it, but don’t love it. Nobody clicks the love button.”

“Well, how do I undo it?”

“I don’t think you can on the phone app. You have to log into the desktop version.”

“I don’t remember my password.”

“It doesn’t matter. He will get so many likes and comments, he won’t notice yours. He doesn’t have to worry about me seeing him in his Model A. I unfollowed him after he didn’t wish me a happy birthday one day after I liked a photo of him in his new wingtip shoes.”

“He is a showoff. Oh, look! Margaret just went live. She’s going to show the birth of her new calf. She’s getting tons of ‘awwws’ and ‘too cutes.’”

“I’m going to comment that I can’t wait to be invited over for veal. Is there an emoji for veal?”

“I don’t think so. Lamb, yes. But I don’t think there is a veal emoji. I read where there is a gender-neutral pony emoji now. You might could slip that one in!”

“I’m doing it. Make sure and love it.”

“I can’t love it. Nobody does that, remember? I will like it if I see it.”

“Hey, Effie. Marvin just asked for recommendations for a blacksmith. He knows good-and-well who all the blacksmiths are. He just wants to make sure everybody knows he got a new team of mules. What a fake.”

“He’s almost as transparent as his wife. One minute somebody’s tagging her in a Sunday school picture, and 15 minutes later she’s sharing a recipe on how to make corn mash. Hey, have you seen this? ’Nine things your peddler isn’t telling you.’ It says I won’t believe No. 7.”

“What’s No. 7?”

“I don’t know. I clicked to see the three warning signs of malaria.”

“Hang on a minute, Effie, I’m doing a quiz to see which silent film star I am. John Barrymore! I’m sharing it. How many likes do you think I’ll get?”

“Who cares? I think I may have malaria!”

The Fragile Nature of the Warm and Fuzzy Feeling

barry currin, stories of a world gone mad, beaverdamusa.comI spent quite a bit of time in the international terminal of the Atlanta airport Sunday night, and what I saw there left me feeling pretty good. It always does.

Grant is spending the next 9 months in Spain on a teaching assignment. Kim and I put him on the plane Sunday night with all the myriad of emotions two parents could muster.

Counting both departures and arrivals, it was our seventh trip inside the international terminal, which is a big, wide-open building that accommodates about a dozen airlines and serves people from all four corners of the earth.

It’s not a bustling place at all. In fact, it’s just the opposite. Except for the occasional panicked traveler who sprints through the door toward security, it’s a pretty laid-back place. People move about leisurely, respectfully and interact peaceably.

The diversity of people there always gets my attention.

The dress, the languages and the different cultures all weave together to create a little microcosm of the earth’s population.

Astronauts talk about the “overview effect,” which happens when they see the earth from space as a fragile planet without geographic boundaries or political, cultural, or social differences.

In other words, the things that divide us on earth are less important to people when they see our planet from space.

I get that same perspective in the international terminal of the Atlanta airport when I observe ordinary people from different cultures interacting with kindness and tolerance. It is refreshing.

The other night one family in particular caught my eye.

They spoke a language I didn’t understand. The father was on his phone trying to solve some sort of problem, while the woman admonished her middle-school-aged daughter for bickering with her little brother. 

I couldn’t understand what mom was saying, but I seemed to get the message better than the daughter did.

The girl’s T-shirt said, “Enjoy the journey.” Her journey probably isn’t going to be easy. But I found it refreshing that she is willing to give the world a chance. 

Regardless of culture or nationality, though, each traveler’s time in that building always ends with them shuffling back and forth in the line toward security.

Each one loses a little dignity as they take off their shoes and step inside the full-body scanner with their hands raised like they’re being arrested.

I know it’s necessary to weed out that one in a million person who wants to harm others. I just wish it wasn’t.

Despite watching everyone, including my son, take their turn reaching for the sky, I still left that night with a good-old warm and fuzzy feeling about life.

Of course, this was promptly shattered 6 hours later when I saw the news about the massacre in Las Vegas.

I’m not going to spend my last 50 words going on a tirade about the complete and utter senselessness of it all, although I could; and I can’t promise I won’t at some point.

But I do wonder why an innocent 12-year-old girl has to be subjected to a security scan while trying to enjoy her journey, while a deranged lunatic gets to slither around undetected before ending the lives of 59 people who are trying to enjoy theirs.

Behold the Mysteries of the Universe

barry currin, stories of a world gone mad, beaverdamusa.comWe had to go to Nashville on business last week.

Sometimes — okay, almost always — when I take a road trip, I allow myself a snack when I gas up.

As I browsed everything in a cellophane package at a store somewhere along Interstate 24, I couldn’t help but overhear a customer talking to the clerk.

I could tell he had been going on for several minutes before I tuned into the conversation.

He was complaining about all things online-shopping related — Amazon, PayPal, eBay, and the like. He didn’t have one positive thing to say about any of them.

Then, just as I was about to pick beef jerky over cashews, he set his sights on social media. I couldn’t resist moving closer, because I could sense it was about to get good.

He went on and on saying just about what I expected he would say, and then he offered up this nugget:

“I’ll tell you what else,” he said. “I’m done with Facebook. I don’t care if your toe hurts, or if you’ve got gangrene. I don’t want to hear about it.”

Obviously, that killed my beef jerky vibe.

Both clerks agreed with him, and like clockwork, offered their opinions on the matter.

I couldn’t get my mind off of what he said as the day went on for a couple of reasons.

First of all, who with gangrene announces on Facebook they have it? I don’t think that’s something I would do. Then again, I don’t announce where I eat lunch, my every mood or 11,000 before-and-after pictures of me cleaning up the garage.

Oversharing is one thing. Telling the universe on Facebook you have gangrene is another.

Of course, I don’t know if the guy was telling the truth or just being hyperbolic.

Let’s pretend for minute that he was telling the truth.

I did a little research and math, and I learned that 0.01 percent of the US population is treated for gangrene each year.

With this knowledge, we can establish the odds of getting it in the first place are astronomical.

Second, the odds of this guy knowing someone who got it are even more astronomical.

And finally, the odds of him and me being in the same place while he was talking about it are simply incalculable.

I guess I’m being silly, but isn’t the universe an interesting place? If I had gotten stopped at a traffic light right after I left the house, I probably wouldn’t have heard him say that. What would I have seen instead? Maybe the place got robbed after I left. Or, maybe I missed Jimmy Buffett stopping in to play a couple of numbers.

Over the course of two days last week, I saw four traffic accidents. I ran upon two of the four immediately after they happened.

When something like this occurs, I always think about how the slightest difference in my decision making up to that point could’ve caused me to be involved.

I try not to think about things like that too much because if I do, I’ll go nuts.

But I’ll tell you this. The next time I’m on the road, I’m keeping my eyes peeled for Jimmy Buffett. After the experience with the guy at the store, I think my odds are pretty good.

When the Pocketknife Leaves, it Rarely Returns

barry currin, stories of a world gone mad, beaverdamusa.comThe recliner finally gave me back my pocket knife.

I exclaimed when I saw it on the floor next to the back chair leg.

I had been convinced the whole time it was somewhere in there amidst the frame, the springs and other parts that make up a chair.

I had searched for it everywhere my hand would fit, but I never could retrieve it.

Then weeks later out of nowhere, poof. There it was.

I still carry a pocketknife just about all the time. I guess it’s a holdover from my fairly rural upbringing.

I have a few old ones and some that have never seen the inside of a pocket.

My collection would be bigger if it weren’t for my uncanny ability to lose them.

Here are three examples.

Several years ago, we tagged along with Grant to Florida on a group diving trip. During the course of the day, my pants pocket developed a hole and my knife fell out. It was a beautiful knife and almost new. I was crushed.

After we got home, however, I got wind that someone else on the trip found it. I was able to get his phone number, and I called him.

As unbelievable as it sounds, he said he might remember finding it.

Come on, Bubba. I think you remember whether you found a pocketknife or not.

And then, he said he thought he remembered tossing it in his toolbox. He would look for it and let me know if he found it.

Click.

Example No. 2 was my own fault.

I was building a deck at our house. I don’t remember why I had my knife out in the first place, but I did.

Soon after I had finished the project, I realized it was missing.

So, what looked like a brand new deck only seconds before now looked like a structure where one entombs a knife.

I’m not sure how I managed to lay it down then nail a bunch of boards on top of it, but I did.

For the last one, let’s jump in the way-back machine to 1984.

Kim and I had tickets to the Jacksons concert in Neyland Stadium.

In the days leading up to the show, some nut job, somewhere, had threatened Michael or maybe the whole family. I don’t remember.

As a result, security was tightened, and the security guard wouldn’t let me take in my pocketknife.

I scoured the concourse area of the stadium trying to find a hiding place for it. It had a significant amount of sentimental value. It was my first knife, plus my uncle had given it to me.

I walked around and surveyed the criss-crossed I-beam skeleton until I found what I thought would be a good hiding place.

When I got closer, I realized it must have in fact been a great hiding place, because someone else had already hidden their knife there.

Yes, of course I put my knife right next to it, and the word naiveté was forever redefined.

That was a long time ago, and I’m more streetwise now. 

Maybe I’m getting better at keeping up with them as well. Not counting the recliner incident, I haven’t lost one in a while now.

Of course, as long as pockets have holes and the world has crooks, there is always a chance.

Hats Off to Those Who Cover Weather Events

barry currin, stories of a world gone mad, beaverdamusa.comI watched a significant amount of news coverage of Hurricane Irma over the weekend.

I admire those correspondents who can stand out in torrential rains and 100-mph winds with perfect hair while saying coherent things in the camera despite the fact that a flying stop sign could chop off their head at any minute.

On my first day in the news business, I acted significantly different during a similar situation.

The summer of 1985 started with me working at the Coca-Cola bottling plant in Huntsville, Ala. It was the summer before my senior year of college. I didn’t have a very important job. I spent my day with a spray can of stainless steel cleaner and a rag making sure my area was spotless.

While I was grateful for the opportunity, polishing stainless steel all day and into the night was a bit monotonous.

My prayers were answered, however, later in the summer when I got a call from the newspaper in Athens, Ala. They wanted me to work up until fall quarter doing some general assignment writing.

Hallelujah.

My boss at the Coke plant let me out of my offer to work out a notice. It wasn’t like I held the secret formula or anything, but still, I appreciated him for it.

The next morning, I barreled into the newsroom about the same time as the remnants of Hurricane Elena barreled toward north Alabama.

To the best of my recollection I clocked in, put my pimento cheese sandwich in the refrigerator and immediately took cover under a big counter in the composing room.

That’s where I met my co-workers.

The publisher was a big, burly guy who could smoke an entire cigarette while typing a story without ever touching it with his hands. He was under there, along with three or four other employees, including the sports editor.

I already liked him because he had put my name in the paper once and said I “put the icing on the cake” for making the game-winning free throw during my junior high basketball career.

They all seemed nice enough. Of course, it was dark, and we were under a tornado warning, so I guess they may have been afraid not to be nice just in case we met our demise over the next 15 minutes or so.

After the storm had passed, my boss sent me to some remote place out in the county where the tornado reportedly touched down.

I felt like Jim being sent by Marlin Perkins into a hyena den, but what choice did I have?

I was supposed to look for a little store, where the damage reportedly occurred. When I got there, all I saw was a concrete slab. The walls were gone. The roof was gone. The shelves, cans of food, milk, bread, everything was gone.

Vanished.

It was surreal.

I took a couple of photos, talked to a guy in overalls, then flew back to the newsroom to file my story.

I was the primary contributor to the lead story on my first day of work. I felt like Edward R. Murrow or any of the other greats we’d learned about in journalism school.

Of course, Ed probably wouldn’t have ridden the storm out under a counter.

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