by Todd Fulginiti
Put yourself in our position. What would you do?
My wife and I were driving home from Harrisburg a few weeks ago, coming down Rt. 283 close to Elizabethtown. The sky looked really weird. It wasnʼt quite green, but it also wasnʼt any shade of sky weʼd seen before. The wind was still, unlike the few minutes past. Neither of us are tornado experts, but we were starting to get a little nervous. Whatever was about to happen, we didnʼt want to participate.
As we tried to figure out which way the wicked weather was moving, both of our cell phones began beeping with the same message. I donʼt recall the exact wording, but it was something like this:
Tornado Warning – Seek Shelter Immediately
We have friends that live just outside of Elizabethtown, across the cornfield from Rt. 283. They were out of town for the weekend, and we werenʼt sure if they had gotten home yet or not. With conditions looking scarier and the cell phone warning in my head, I asked my wife to call our friends. We were only a few miles from their house.
(Pause here and ask yourself what you think sheʼll say when she calls them.)
So I kept driving as my wife called and left the following message: “Hey guys- not sure if youʼre back home yet or not but thereʼs a tornado warning in your area. So drive safe and be careful.”
At that point I was reminded of how my wife and I are fundamentally different. That was totally not the message I was expecting her to leave! Seeing as we were right near the friendʼs house, with a possible tornado pending, I just assumed that she was going to ask them if we could come hide out in their basement.
Turns out they didnʼt get the message right away anyhow because they were…..hiding out in the basement without their phones.
Iʼm not saying my wifeʼs reaction was wrong, but never in a million years would I have reacted the way she did. I was all in for saving myself (and her). Does that make me a bad person or a survivor? Is my wife a saint or a fool? Maybe all of the above. Maybe none.
As Iʼve told this story time after time to friends and relatives, two things stand out. First, that many people also would have reacted as my wife did, calling to protect their friends and not mentioning their own plight.
Secondly, both reactions are very strong in that most people donʼt conceive of the opposite response until they hear about it.
So Iʼm curious. What did you think when you read the story? Did you want to protect yourself first or your friends? Does that say anything important about you? Were you surprised by the opposite reaction?
In any case, itʼs good to be reminded that sometimes the obvious isnʼt that obvious.
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Definitely surprised at first by your wife’s message. I did pause at the parentheses and asked myself what I would say. 1st I wondered if I should take some time to be like “Hey!! How are you?? How was your trip?” Because then i might get sucked into a story when I’m actually in a bit of a desperate situation. 2nd I considered that if they were home and we could shelter with them, we could catch up then, so maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if I jumped right into it “Hey!! Are you home? We are in the area and just got a tornado alert on our phones and the weather outside is kind of scary… Can we stop by your house?” I probably would have gone with option #2, I decided. But when I read that your wife had to leave a message, that changed everything. If I had to leave a message, who knows how soon they might hear it, so I would also think it’s pointless to ask for a favor at that point… I probably would have ended up leaving a similar message just out of resignation. Lol.
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Haha – yeah – it can be surprisingly complicated when you think it through (which I did not – I just reacted).