Tuesday, September 29, 2015


Oh, hey guys. Give me just a... oof... okay. Whew, I think we're good. Sorry about that. It's a lot of work dragging out my soapbox, but doggone it if I don't feel the urge to stand on it now and again whenever I witness an act of brazen stupidity.

It was a week ago Thursday. I had just gotten home from work when my entire universe suddenly exploded in a cacophony of bells and alarms. My first step was to ensure that I wasn't having a heart attack -- thankfully, old reliable had survived the adrenaline rapids and was still treading haphazardly through the Cholesterol River. I was very much alive... but for how long? My phone bore the bad news: a tornado warning in full effect.

I looked up at the blue sky staring down from the skylight and was highly confused. One peek outside, though, told the whole story. Above me was blue, but to the West, dark clouds were gathering like Voldemort plotting a sneak attack. Yikes.

I switched the TV to local news to find out exactly what was up. According to Anthony Peoples & Andy McCray, we were staring down a double whammy. There were reports of a tornado in the Port Byron area, as well as multiple confirmed sightings of a second tornado working its way from Monmouth to Galesburg. This news made me immediately bristle.

I grew up just outside of Galesburg. My parents still live there. As I listened to the WHBF crew pinpoint the tornado's location, I instinctively picked up the phone and called home. My folks were just sitting down to dinner. They had no clue about the tornado warning or that one was confirmed on the ground within miles of their home.

I anxiously watched as the weathermen tracked the tornado's movements, and sighed in relief when it headed south of my parents. I cringed, though, as news trickled in that the tiny town of Cameron had taken a direct hit. I've been to Cameron many times and I know folks who live out that way. As the weather subsided and WHBF switched back to regular programming, I hopped online to find out more about the fate of that friendly little town. At one point, I loaded WHBF's Facebook page to see if they had any late breaking updates. That's when I saw the comments.

"This is getting old!" the first one said. "You need to get the weather off and put Big Brother on now!"

I couldn't believe it. But it was just one of a dozen comments pouring in to the same effect.

"We are missing Big Brother for something that is 50 miles away! Ridiculous!"
"Oh for goodness sakes, enough of the weather!"
"Don't you realize how important this veto night is? Put on Big Brother!"

It's as if they were holding a competition for Worst Person in the Entire World and I was staring down the entries. It's not often that I find myself screaming uselessly at a computer screen, but in that moment, I had some choice words for those folks who wrote in to COMPLAIN about live tornado coverage pre-empting their precious Big Brother. I almost wished that a torna... no, scratch that, I would never wish a tornado upon anyone. Know why? BECAUSE I'M NOT THE WORST PERSON IN THE WORLD, that's why. (Though I'd probably be okay with a freak hailstorm denting their cars up real good.)

That 'ridiculous' tornado coverage very likely saved lives that night. The only warning a tiny rural community like Cameron had was their local TV. And guess what, their local TV is OUR local TV, even if it's 50 miles away. Maybe you were in Rock Island with me that night looking up at blue skies. Be grateful. More people live in the Galesburg/ Monmouth area than live in Rock Island. We were the minority that night.

I'm super sorry that the safety of my parents and 41,000 other people caused you to miss 20 minutes of Big Brother. Gee, WHBF, what were you thinking? "I know it's a bummer that your house got swept away to Oz and a car landed on your head, but we had to make sure that Vanessa didn't tell Audrey that Liz is secretly switching places with her twin sister Julia because then Clay's plan to back-door Jeff might fail!"

That last sentence is REAL, and you know how I know? Because Big Brother is my secret shame and I watch every episode religiously. But you know what? When I found out a tornado ripped apart a town in our viewing area, I didn't miss Big Brother for one second. And if I DID miss out, provided that I still had a house that wasn't reduced to rubble, I could've logged onto CBS.com and watched a replay anytime I wanted.

I hope there are no more tornadoes this year, but if there are, take this as a friendly reminder not to be an awful person. With that said, I sheepishly step off my soapbox and haul it back to the cobwebs where it belongs. Oh, and I hope Johnny Mac wins Big Brother.

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