08 April 2008

Ask Not for Whom the Bell Tolls...

I have been joking recently in my status messages about my workload, saying, "Ask not for whom the deadline tolls, it tolls for SBB."

Today, however, a different "bell" was tolling for me. It's Tuesday, my day to sleep in and then do work all day long. So, imagine my terror when I woke up to sirens, wailing and loud outside of my room, my apartment, my CITY.

Here's my series of thoughts, in very quick succession:
1. I didn't set my alarm today! It's Tuesday. What happened to my alarm-pod?
2. What the [bad word in gerund form] [bad word] is going on!?
3. Am I going to blow up?
4. Gloria (cousin) will explain. Furiously dial cell phone while scrambling downstairs to the kitchen where it's "safe."
5. Gloria explains: A country-wide disaster / siren drill. Make sure you know where your bomb shelter / safe room is!
6. My Hebrew U memo told me there was going to be a drill on Tuesday, April 8th, but I thought it meant a fire drill.

The phone conversation ended with me talking about kashering my kitchen for Passover and what was up with the Rafiparents are here. All of this while the siren petered out in the background.

The siren was extremely loud. I felt like I was in middle school again, and they were making a terrible announcement over the loudspeakers. Sure, I ran downstairs and kind of stood awkwardly in the kitchen as Gloria told me it was just a drill, but I was 2 milliseconds away from jumping into bed with Lisa (she lives in the safe room). Would I be really safe if it wasn't a drill? Who knows?

At CIL, there was an outdoor PA system, often used and overused by overzealous announcement, ahem, hoda'ah makers, to notify the entire camp of messages and time changes. I didn't realize Israel was wired similarly. Every story I've heard about Israel's Yom HaZikaron / Memorial Day included stopping cars in the middle of the highway, so passengers and drivers could stand silently in memorial, as soon as the siren sounded. I guess I always pictured the siren piping in through the radio stations drivers choose on their commute. Now I know better. Israel is wired like my middle school, and like CIL.

All I know is that soon I'll be back in the USA, where I am lucky to live without disaster drills. (Yeah, we have hurricanes, but at least then they give you fair warning to stock up on Gatorade.) And, much like speaker-system free CRD, the camp I work at in odd-numbered summers, there is not a massive outdoor speaker system to scare the [bad word] out of me.

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