Friday, September 10, 2010

Back in Black

The headline was, "Diner Burns to Ground in South Jersey." Make your own jokes, I’m too tired. You see, when the fire alarms started ringing in every town within earshot (and several I had previously thought were out of earshot), I thought I was dreaming. Why, I thought, are they running the sirens before dawn? Are we under attack? Am I in Camden? ‘Nam? My windows were open to take in the first real breeze of the season so the sound carried over hill and vale (or in this instance, brick and mortar) to my bedroom. I swear I could hear each individual firehouse light up and get going. I could even follow their drive through town based on how the sirens varied.

Too lazy to get out of bed (which I had already done three time during the night in service of my son and my bladder), I hunched under the covers and tried to go back to sleep. When that didn’t work, I tried to figure out what target the terrorists would want to hit in my area on the eve of September 11th. The sirens were going in the opposite direction of the local bridges, which also eliminated them going to Philly, and there isn’t a nuclear power plant or government base anywhere close. Finally, I realized that terrorists couldn’t find my town with a map and compass (which would oddly prove to be true of local newscasters as well) and drifted off into a fitful sleep.

Twenty minutes later, I woke again, this time to the sound of a helicopter hovering above my roof. Funny, I didn’t know I had a landing pad up there. Sure, Santa finds it every year but I don’t remember extending the invitation to the local aviation industry. I have never heard such a cacophony of noise in my life (and I've been to Gymboree). It was a form of aural torture that was like trying to take in a wall of sound. Think of the loudest point in any professional sports game, when you are surrounded by thousands of screaming (and in Philly, bloodthirsty) fans. Multiply that sound by ten, expand it so that it lasts for a full hour, and then pinpoint it directly above your head. I actually had to go outside my home and look up to find the damn thing it was so close. Not close enough to curse them roundly, but close enough to discover it was my usual nemesis at play: Fox News. This is when I was finally able to see the smoke billowing into the sky mere blocks from my home.

Obviously wide awake now and curious, I turned on the television. I flipped channels a bit while I waited to get a clear shot of what the hell was so important that they had to get a news copter out to record it when I finally uncovered the truth – a diner had caught fire. In New Jersey. Good lord people. There are more diners in Jersey than guidos and mobsters combined. In fact, before they even named the diner, I was trying to figure out which one of the four within a one-mile radius it could have been. And yes, it is devastating to the owners of the property, the employees, even the regular customers, but did it deserve a news copter? Are we really still at the caveman stage where we have to stand around a fire and say “ooooohhh pretty?” If so, can you stand a bit to the side? I can’t see around you.

It must have been a big f’ing fire if only because the diner apparently stretched across three separate towns. That’s a lot of cheese fries. Now, I know South Jersey is just one, continuous, traffic-clogged road that leads down the shore for most people, but there are individual towns here. Fox News got the name of the town wrong. ABC got the name of the town wrong. Philadelphia is a large metropolitan area with multiple media outlets. They employ a lot of people. If they can afford a chopper, they can afford a freakin’ fact checker.

And so, I did not have a good morning. Obviously, the owners of the diner had a far worse one and the brave and noble volunteer and professional firefighters had a rough one as well putting out the blaze and keeping safe. I’m sure they will all need an extra cup of coffee or a Red Bull this afternoon. And for those people, I feel sorry. But for the mothertrucker who decided that X marked the spot on my roof and used it as his (or her) fixed location for filming – I wish dark and evil thoughts unto you. Involving rotor blades. And wind shear.

(Fun fact: never post "read about me trying to build a ground-to-air missle out of Legos" on the anniversary of a terrorist attack on Facebook. It will get pulled.)

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