I played a round of golf at Mirror Lake public golf course in Bonner County, Idaho last Tuesday with Annette. Lovely. Good course. Then we went to lunch in Bonner City. Organic boutiquey place. Great food. By the time we got back to our friend’s house it was about four o’clock, and I realized I didn’t have my wallet. Damn, I hate when that happens.

After a series of eliminating questions and phone calls, I located it in the pocket of the rental golf club bag. Crap! That meant I’d have to drive about an hour back to the course and then another hour back to my friend’s house.

I set off by myself along a two lane road through timber and a low-mountain area, not exactly the middle of nowhere maybe, but a bit remote, an empty road in the graying afternoon. I was listening to National Public Radio when a lady’s voice abruptly came on air…

“We interrupt this program for an emergency alert. Please stand-by while the Emergency Alert System activates.”

Then without any other info that other-worldly, but completely familiar, staticky buzz signal began and continued for about twenty seconds. Then a series of 4 or 5 beeps rang out for ten seconds more.

Huh? Really? What’s going on? I’m in the middle of the country, by myself. Are we under attack? Are bombers headed my way?

EASI flashbacked back immediately to my elementary school years when we dove under desks and covered our heads in nuclear warning exercises during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Was the end finally upon me?

I strained to look up at the sky through the windshield. I couldn’t see anything. The buzz continues…thirty seconds is a long time, long enough for me to get a bit anxious. After 9/11, you expect that anything can happen. I’m thinking that Robin Williams just died yesterday, so what kind of tragedy is upon us today?

The buzzing stops. A whistle sounds. Then a man’s voices says, “A severe weather system warning has been issued for the following counties in Washington and Idaho.”

Before he gets to naming the counties, he repeats that the severe thunderstorms will include winds in excess of 60mph and associated lightning strikes, hail, flash-flooding, etc. He then lists the counties, and sure enough Bonner Country is included.

I look out the car window. Now the skies certainly do look ominous.

The man continues, “These are life-threatening storms. If you are inside, stay inside and go to the lower floor of your home. Close drapes and all exterior doors. If you are in your car, pull over to the side of the road if hail or lightning strikes appear…”

Rain begins to hit my windshield. I’m expecting hail stones at any second and a jolt of lightning sizzling my rooftop and frying me on the spot!

I look around for reactions from other drivers, but as I said the road is nearly empty. There’s no one to check-in with, no one to reassure me that continuing to drive is the right thing to do.

Then the announcer says, “We return you now to your regular programming.”



The regular programming I’m returned to is midstream at Erbil, Iraq with women wailing, men screaming, and bullets blasting in the background of that horrific scene. From there, the news shifts to the border of Ukraine where 45,000 Russian troops are poised to invade or bomb or blast or in some other way commit mayhem. From there, the news jumps to riots in Ferguson, Missouri.



I was struck to my heart by what a truly chaotic planet we live on!

Most of the time we go about our business, planning our workday, eating our dinner at 6, breakfast a 7, watching the new movie at the Cineplex, too-da-loo-ing on the weekend, a little kayaking or biking or farmer’s marketing shopping…latte’s and espressos, Kardashians and Oprah’s ice bucket challenge…

We act as if everything is in order, when in fact chaos and disaster are next to us, tapping on our shoulder. Or are they? At any moment this storm may come screaming down this lonely highway and find my little car and me inside of it and tip my world upside down. Or will it?

And at that moment of thought…honest to God…off to my left out the window…I see a bald eagle take flight from its perch in a cedar tree out into the spectacular sky. He’s flying away from me so that he’s in view for a long time. Graceful. Elegant wings climbing into the air.



I wonder if he knows about the approaching thunderstorm? Of course he doesn’t. And that’s the point. He’s not listening to the world’s problems. They’re not his emergency. They’re not his world.

What will he do if the 60mph winds hit? Adapt to them, face them head on or run to safety. But for now, he’s at peace as the beautiful evening spreads out below him.

I need to become an eagle. I start by turning off the radio and putting my windshield wipers on.





6 Responses to This Is An Emergency…Really?

  1. Frank, great post! Indeed, what one considers an emergency is relative! Thanks for the reminder and hello to Annette 🙂

  2. Beverly Pine says:

    This brought me back to my freshman year at Indiana University where, being a New Yorker, I heard on the radio there was a tornado warning for Monroe County (which included Bloomington, Indiana.) I remember thinking what the hell do I do? Watch the sky all day instead of going to classes? The sad … or maybe happy … truth is we are pretty powerless. We go about our little lives hoping the tornado (bombs, missiles, etc.) steer clear of us at least for today.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Hey Michael,

    Glad you enjoyed this one. I appreciate your comment. If you continue to enjoy my posts, share them with your friends!



  4. Anonymous says:

    Hey Joe,

    I remember it very well…a shotgun and a box of shells sharing the motel bed with a case of beer in Atlanta, Georgia! An image I’ll never forget.

    Thanks for the comment, hope you’re enjoying you life in Asia.


  5. Joseph Noble says:

    Remember my reaction to 9-11, Frank. Now, living in Asia with no easy access to guns, it seems like another world.

  6. Really enjoyed this one, Frank. So true, and one of your best posts. Thanks.

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