There’s this city-wide emergency siren that is sometimes tested on weekdays in the middle of the day. It’s to alert citizens to a disaster or catastrophe, like when an evacuation is necessary.
Yesterday, it went off at 5:45pm. I heard it loud and clear. The problem with this siren is all you hear is the noise. There’s no accompanying announcement telling you what the siren is for. So when it went off, no one knew why. We looked outside to see if any neighbors were coming outside to ask each other what it meant. Nope. My dad called 911 to see if they had any idea what the emergency could be. No. We turned on the tv to see if there would be an update across the bottom of the screen. There wasn’t.
We continued to go about our day.
So often in life, I think if only I had been warned about this–that the guy I’m dating is going to turn out to be a jerk; that one more drink will be one too many; that someone is about to eat the last banana popsicle–then I would be able to change my course accordingly. I would be able to avoid the mistake that leads to disaster. I would dump the guy, or decline the drink, or eat the popsicle immediately.
But this mystery siren made me wonder: are there warning signs, only because I don’t know how to interpret them, I ignore them? If someone came up to me and said, “Warning!” I still wouldn’t know what it meant. I’d still be in the dark about the situation. Unless someone specifically said, “Hey, your sister is going to eat the last banana popsicle in 5 minutes,” I would still have no clue. That’s because we’re not built to interpret vague warning signals. Or at least, I’m not. Or at least, I choose to ignore them because ignoring them and continuing to go about my day is easier. Not only that, but it allows me to later lament, when everything has blown up in my face, “This came out of nowhere! How was I supposed to know this would happen?!”
If I heard the warning siren and understood what it meant and still went along with whatever I was going to do in the first place, that would make me a fool.
Five hours later, we found out the siren had been going off because a tornado was sighted in Cleveland. This came out of nowhere! How was I supposed to know this would happen?!