I’m flying high over Tupelo, Mississippi with America’s hottest band…and we’re all about to die.
But when you’re a journalist sitting in the newsroom on a Tuesday afternoon, just seven minutes before you’re due in the Chief of Police’s office for a meeting, and everything around you starts to buzz like you’re inside your own vibrating cell phone?
Well, you at least feel like you’re about to die.
Or be terribly, terribly sick.
And you sort of wonder if there’s a more perfect place to be when disaster strikes. Anyone could tell you anything and it wouldn’t matter, because tomorrow’s headlines will tell of Richter scale measurements and fault lines, but certainly not your famous last words.
Certainly not the secrets you keep wrapped up deep inside for occasions like this when the whole room shakes and you feel like you’re tripping on a drug from the seventies.
That’s also the moment you swear off any form of psychedelic injection fluids.
No thank you. I do not want to feel like I’m trapped inside a cheesy transition from an episode of That 70′s Show, even if I do get to play funhouse with Ashton Kutcher.
Thank God the rest of Twitter is focused on something other than those of us who assumed it was just a housekeeper vacuuming the nonexistent carpeting upstairs.
“I don’t know if you know this,” the receptionist says to me, “but we just had an earthquake.”
“So that wasn’t someone vacuuming?” I ask. “Because that’s what we thought.” Pause. “Downstairs.”
He shakes his head and I retreat to a hard-backed plastic chair in the waiting area between the campus police offices and the main hallway. Dispatch calls flood through my ears as citizens try to pull together the facts of what they know and who they love and what-the-heck-just-happened-was-that-an-earthquake?!
Yes, my friends.
The world will come together more often than not when your cell phone starts buzzing and your Twitter feed’s rolling and the whole country knows that you just held your breath and prayed that it was all inside your head.
That rumble was just the symptom of staring at a giant computer screen too long, not the end of someone’s favorite china collection or crystal stemware or that Shamrock ornament that hangs above the front door for good luck.
Unfortunately it’s too big to ignore when your biggest denial is trending in hashtag form and it’s all you can do not to think about your little sister on her first day of classes, sitting in her dorm room while the bed shakes beneath her.
It’s all you can do not to write a letter to Sprint PCS and tell them to get their act together because your whole family’s spread over an 8-hour, 500-mile trip and you know they felt it in New York so of course they felt it in Philly.
That’s what technology will do to you. It’ll leave you worried sick and holding on and thanking God that somebody invented Facebook chat so your aunt in Charlotte can instant message you to tell you that your sister in Greensboro and your mother in Philadelphia are fine-just-fine.
It’s a curse and a blessing, that technology.
But 8 hours later you’ll remember that even though you were only an hour north of the epicenter, you’re alive and breathing and the world is all in this together. On Twitter. And Facebook. And right in that newsroom where the buzzing all began.
And isn’t it funny that God placed you there on that day and that time when you could’ve been anywhere, anywhere else in this big massive world? Without the invention of a cellphone, no less.
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