Yesterday, a brief errand out with the boys abruptly turned scary, slightly dangerous and mind-numbingly boring, all at the same time.
(UNIVERSE TO AMY: STOP GOING OUTSIDE.)
When we left the house I saw some clouds rolling in. "Looks like it's going to rain," Noah observed.
And indeed, by the time we arrived at Target a few minutes later, it was starting to drizzle a bit.
Five minutes after that, my phone (and the phones of dozens of fellow shoppers) began to buzz and screech with a tornado warning. A tornado? Really? That seems...excessive. Chill, weather alert thing.
We continued shopping and showed up at the register with that typical sort of Weird Target Haul of Rando Items -- we were technically there for dish detergent and sponges, yet ended up with a pair of shorts, band-aids, a candle, hair ties, and birthday cards for Jason.
(Happy 40th, honey! BTW your 7 year old picked out the card calling you an old man, not me.)
By the time we approached the register some RATHER INTENSE WEATHER was going on outside. And inside things were starting to fritz out accordingly. The self-checkouts were "cash or giftcards only," and then after getting in what seemed like a short line predictably getting held up because someone was trying to pay by check, I realized the check-writer was was attempting it simply because her credit card wasn't working and she didn't have cash.
(Side note: Apologies for mentally zapping you with all those laser beams of hateful resentment, check-writing lady.)
After getting the official word that yep, credit card system is done, as is the store ATM, I figured we'd abandon our cart of hodgepodge purchases (which: DAMN, cuz I really liked those shorts) and get the hell out of there.
Nope. The store was basically in lockdown/shelter mode, and no one inside was allowed to leave. And judging by what I could see of the parking lot, that was 1,000% the right call, because it really was looking pretty Wizard of Oz out there.
I told the boys we'd go back and look at toys, but then the store managers decided they wanted everybody in the dead center of the store. We all huddled in the aisles around towels and bedding sets and several shoppers started to cry and show signs of real fear and panic. I'd spent AT LEAST 30 minutes at this point trying to keep my children calm after the thunder and lightning started, and then again after they overheard the word "tornado," and now this, being herded into housewares while grown-ups were clearly losing their shit was just too much for them. This was officially Really Scary for them.
(Once we were given the green light to head back to the Lego aisle, they were totally fine.)
The managers announced that since there was no touchdown, we were safe to go about our shopping anywhere in the store. (The tornado did touchdown elsewhere in the county, but it lifted when it got to us.) Although we still weren't allowed to leave and registers were still cash only.
So everybody just sort of...wandered around, not really wanting to commit to any purchases that they wouldn't be able to pay for but still not unloading or abandoning their carts and baskets outright. (I was still holding out hope for my shorts.) It was supremely weird and stupidly boring, especially since it was now after 2 p.m. and we were all starrrrrving because we'd planned to grab lunch out after the Target stop. I thought about heading to the grocery aisles for a snack of some kind but I didn't have ANY cash beyond some change, and while Target was happy to provide shelter from the storm I was not getting any indication that they cared enough to hand out free food.
So instead of looting, we just waited. And waited. The next emergency alert was for flash flooding but not a tornado, and eventually, shit started to calm down outside. I was told credit cards were still "intermittent" but the ATM was working. So I made a guess at how much the contents of my cart were and got back in line. DAMMIT I WAS GETTING THOSE SHORTS. ALSO WE REALLY DO NEED THE SPONGES.
I was off by about $8, but my card went through anyway, so...whatever.
(I also realize right now, as I'm typing this, that my kids all had their allowance money in their pockets, so we could have at least sprung for a damn bag of Goldfish crackers or something.)
We got home and to assess the damage.
Lots of wood for the fire pit...
And alas, our Target-brand umbrella is no more. Shoulda picked one up while I was there. Because I am NOT GOING BACK ANYTIME SOON.
The siding is fine, at least. And all our other furniture and accessories survived as well (seriously, the wind lifted the umbrella out of its stand and up through a hole in the table, and yet the boys' bubble machine and a bunch of mosquito candles didn't even move an inch off the deck railing). Lots of downed tree limbs in our area, but no major damage or injuries. Although I wouldn't sit on those cushions for a couple more days.
(Especially while wearing my new shorts, which really are super cute and almost totally worth it.)