Priorities

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Today was a typical spring day in Iowa.  That is to say, tornadoes.  I was lucky enough to be by myself in the gas station while a Tornado Warning was issued. (A Tornado Warning means there is a tornado on the ground near you.  It means stop what you’re doing and take cover.)

When the warning was issued, I did what I was told on a recent memo from HQ regarding severe weather.  I stopped the gas pumps, put up a closed sign, and locked the doors.  Anyone who was in the store at that moment was told to either leave immediately or join me in the shelter.  Everybody left.  I called the manager to let him know what was going on.  He seemed fine with it, and he told me to keep him updated and that he’d keep an eye on the TV to let me know if anything would change.

An assistant manager then called me and asked me why I’d shut down the store.  I told her that there was a Tornado Warning.  She said that she’s never shut down the store in that situation unless the power went out.  I said that I’m just doing what I was told to do, and that I take Tornado Warnings seriously.  She seemed pissed, but I wasn’t going to be selling beer and cigarettes to people while warning sirens were going off in the city.

So I took cover.  Then I heard a knock on the door.  I looked, and there was a group of people waiting by the door, completely oblivious of the “Closed” sign I had taped to it.  I rushed over to them and told them that we were closed.  One said, “I guess you don’t want me paying for gas, then.”

The pumps were still on somehow.  People were out there, filling up with gas.  I saw clouds swirling in green skies overhead.  I told them all to quit pumping gas and head for shelter.  I said that those sirens mean there’s a Tornado Warning.  I hit the Emergency Stop button for all the pumps, since the other stop button didn’t seem to be working.

“But I need just a bit of gas,” said one.  “I need some pop,” said another.  “Come on, man, it’s not going to hit us,” said yet another.

“Whoever has pumped gas, come in and pay for it quickly,” I said.  “Everyone else, go home or come into the shelter with me.”

They complained for a bit and went away.  I rung up the couple of folks who managed to get gas.

Then I sat by myself in the men’s room (the safest room in the gas station), listening to weather warnings on the country music station, interrupted by a song called “This is How it Ends.”

The weather passed.

Thankfully (and obviously) I didn’t die.

Unfortunately, the gas station still stands.  Oh well.

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