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live report from a west palm beach safe room
by alan george

My name is Alan reporting live from my West Palm Beach safe room with my wife Peg, visiting brother-in-law Scott, and Neudge the cat. Just finished the last of the duct taping, however I ran out of the sticky stuff and substituted electrical tape instead. Sent an email to Tom Ridge asking if the substitution was acceptable. The 3.5 of us have about five hours of breathable air until we begin to pass out, so I hope Home Depot gets more duct tape in or I just don't know what we will do...especially if we go to the next level of alert...which I think is scarlet. Well, I'll think about that tomorrow. Yesterday I saw a recently clean-shaven dark-skinned man with a few razor nicks wearing clothes that didn't fit standing on the corner asking for small change. I did my patriotic duty and reported him to Homeland Security Czar Mr. Tom (I Can't Believe I Asked For This Job) Ridge at the new Terrorist Threat Integration Center. I'd report him to our A.G. Mr. John (Please Put A Cover Over That Obscene Statue Of Justice)Ashcroft, except that would result in the poor man being arrested and held for months on end incommunicado, whereabouts unknown except to the Ministry Of Information's John (I Shoulda Been A Felon) Poindexter. I'm personally much more comfortable with Mr. Ridge, who is originally from Pennsylvania, which just so happens to be the state that I'm from originally, so you see the validity of the connection.

(Four hours, forty minutes of breathable air)

While we're waiting here in the safe room for word on any actions by terrorists, Peg is reading, Scott is performing a safety check of my handiwork to make sure no air is seeping in, and the cat is sleeping as usual, so it will be difficult to gage the difference between her normal activity, or her feeling the effects of any biological or chemical reaction. Just for the fun of it, I nudge her every few minutes to see if there is a reaction. Except for a few evil glances from the opal eye, she seems fine.

Our safe room is the master bedroom and master bath, which I suppose actually constitute safe rooms, but with 3.5 occupants, we needed the space. We have food supplies to last three days...peanut butter, Spam, Doritos, water, vodka and bourbon; add the precious laptop to send and receive emails, our Bose radio, vanilla scented candles, the Photon Micro Light Mini Flashlight/Key chain which, to be sure it is still operating, I aim at the cat for amusement...stockpiled clothes, medicine and tools, and we're good to go! Peg just looked up from her book and asked..."why do we have three days worth of supplies and only enough air for five hours? Are we planning to binge?" Scott and I looked at each other quizzically, and then I sent another email query to Tommy Boy. I pondered my own question of how many emails from a guy calling himself "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang", would it take before constituting suspicious activity as defined in the 2001 Terrorist Act?

(three hours, ten minutes of breathable air)

All this activity takes my memories back to Philadelphia in the 1950's with neighbors digging bomb shelters, and discussions by the entire family on where to meet if the worst scenario ever happened. The plan was for me, after surviving a nuclear attack from under my school desk, to hastenly proceed to a designated location far away from the "City of Brotherly Love". My father picked the Pocono Mountains to meet. Why he chose to be surrounded by honeymooners and skiers I'll never know, but as for me under today's threat, I'm going to suggest gathering all of our wine corks saved over the years (in the hopes of one day making Christmas cork wreaths for all our friends) and having the family meet in Key West. Once safely ensconced on the beach we can make a cork raft and hopefully float to Cuba, seeking asylum from all the madness.

(two hours, fifty-seven minutes of breathable air)

My wife just stopped reading again to ask..."are the terrorists going to announce a chemical attack is imminent, so we'll have plenty of time to re-tape?" ....................I'm getting lightheaded, so best I end this report now and go send one more information-seeking email to an unknown location, bother the cat and eat some Doritos.

( two hours, fifty-five minutes...)


I have shown time and time again being qualified for a job is over-rated (also see presidency). For a good time, try surviving as a liberal radio talk show host in archly conservative Northwest Florida; nothing is impossible after that.

more about alan george


it isn't easy being green, or orange, or...
by alan george
topic: humor
published: 12.30.99


tracey kelley
2.26.03 @ 11:08a


It's amazing the places that are carrying duct tape. I've found boxes of the stuff in the produce aisle of the grocery store (next to the organic carrots), at the gas station (directly beside economy-sized bags of Combo's) and outside the main entryway for the Department of Motor Vehicles.

adam kraemer
2.26.03 @ 12:02p

Ironic, considering none of those places sells ducts.

heather millen
2.26.03 @ 12:56p

Huh. I didn't realize there was any duct tape left in the world. You know it MUST have been the manufacturers that started this rumor.


robert melos
2.26.03 @ 1:40p

IS duct tape sold in gaggles?

matt morin
2.27.03 @ 2:13a

Tom Ridge - America's best pitch man. He's getting the economy jump started by encouraging consumers to buy, buy, buy!

It's absolutely stunning how dumb people are.

robert melos
2.27.03 @ 2:35a

Matt, most people want to believe what they are being told. Maybe I'm just more jaded than most, or more suspicious of, well, everybody. On the other hand, the next time Ridge or Rumsfeld, or Ashcroft even suggests buying something, I'm gonna find out what company manufactures the item, and run out and buy as much stock in that company as possible.

matt morin
2.27.03 @ 11:43a

People need to learn to think for themselves. If anyone had thought about the "duct tape your windows" idea for even 2 seconds, the ridiculousness of it is pretty apparent - Alan made fun of a bunch of those problems in this very column.

jael mchenry
2.27.03 @ 11:49a

The idea of being prepared is not inherently stupid, it's just that they went about it in completely the wrong way. Things like making plans to contact your loved ones, that sort of thing, that's just common sense (for those of us who live in DC, anyway.) Duct tape, that should be last on your list.

What I think is funny is that a bunch of people in DC went out and stocked up on things in case of a manmade disaster and then ended up using them in the face of a natural one. I'm sure people were thrilled to have their canned goods when they were snowbound in their houses for three days.

matt morin
2.27.03 @ 1:15p

Being prepared is a great idea. I have a hand-powered radio and flashlight, and a full earthquake kit, just in case. But if people think duct tape and plastic is being prepared, they may as well save their money and do nothing.

heather millen
2.27.03 @ 1:29p

I agree. I have an emergency first aid kit and other disaster necessities, including a radio, flashlight, several bottles of wine, and a corkscrew.

No glasses, but really, who has time for etiquette when the apocalypse is coming.

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