Last Saturday, I flew to New York.
At 6pm I was in a cab from JFK into Manhattan, when the driver said: “The tornado is due at 9pm.” He said it like a waiter saying, “your eggs will be with you in five minutes.”
“What!!?” I shouted, sticking my face into the little gap in the glass partition. “Are you kidding me! What is this? The Wizard of Oz!?”
“No, it already hit Brooklyn and Queens. It’ll be in Manhattan at 9pm,” he said.
“Wait, my plane must have taken a wrong turn! Are we in Kansas?”
“No, you’re definitely in New York.”
“How often do you get tornados here?” I asked. “Come to think of it’s the first one I’ve ever known,” he said “Nine? I’ve a dinner reservation at nine,” I said.
“Don’t go out on the street; bunker down,” he advised as he pulled up on Park Avenue.
“How can I bunker down? I’m on the 22nd floor. It’ll probably be heading straight for my room! Any chance it could arrive, say, after dinner, around 11?”
“No, it’s definitely 9pm… That’ll be $57.”
“Excuse me, what time is the tornado due?” I asked as I checked in. “Nine, sir” the clerk said placidly.
As the porter opened the door to my room, I asked: “About the tornado. What do you suggest I do?”
“Try taking an umbrella, sir”. New Yorkers are tough.
I left a message for my dinner date: “Sorry, due to the imminent arrival of the tornado, I can’t make dinner – I’m sure you understand. If I survive, I’ll re-schedule tomorrow – good luck! Keep strong! Peter.”
I’ve seen tornadoes in the movies so I knew what to do. I got down on my knees and tried to squeeze under the king-size bed. It was two inches off the ground…
I dragged the chest of drawers with the TV on top against the window. I was exhausted but I got to watch the weather news at the same time: “150mph winds are expected when the tornado hits,” said the Paul Newman-lookalike, with a dazzling smile.
I got into bed, got under the blankets and stayed there. In the morning, I couldn’t move the chest of drawers away from the window to look outside. But I had survived! In case the lift was now dangling by a thread (I saw Towering Inferno), I took the stairs… all 367 of them.
In the lobby, there was no obvious sign of devastation but one light bulb was out on the chandelier.
I said to Carmine, my waiter: “How was the tornado? Was it terrible? Many people killed!?
“What tornado was that, sir?” he said, pouring the freshly squeezed orange juice.
“What tornado was that!? THE tornado! The tornado that hit the city last night. The 9pm tornado; that tornado!”
“Oh that tornado, sir. It missed.”
“Wait a minute! What do you mean it missed!? “I cancelled my dinner – and I re-designed my room!”
Carmine shrugged. “It just went someplace else, I guess. Maybe Kansas,” he said as he served the coffee.
“Your eggs will be with you in five minutes.”