Some fifteen(ish) years later, I can’t help but hear the voice of my father screaming at me every time I use my turn signal, “SIGNAL YOUR INTENT, REBECCA” followed generally by some nonsense about “AND PUT ON A FUCKING PAIR OF PANTS, DAMMIT” because that’s the way my brain works: it remembers odd turns of phrase and holds them captive in some random corner of my mind that could be better used, oh, I don’t know, LEARNING HOW TO MAKE COFFEE?
(stands up holding cup of lukewarm coffee in Styrofoam container and announces:)My name is Becky, I’m 32 years old, and I can’t make coffee.
However, I CAN remind you (loudly) to SIGNAL YOUR INTENT to other drivers, which has always made me giggle: what if my intent was to flash them or whip donuts at old people? Is there a special signal for THAT because my turn signal doesn’t seem to do much beyond blink stupidly.
Nevertheless, I DO signal my intent every fucking time I turn, which means that somewhere along those years in which my father remains convinced I didn’t listen to him, I actually DID listen to him.
Goes to show you never can tell.
A couple of weeks ago, when the rains came and the river engorged, I checked the forecast on my i(can’t)Phone as I was dressing for work, figuring we were probably due for a tsunami or something. I learned that while we were NOT experiencing an earthquake, fire, tornado, random flinging of fish or *waves hand* some OTHER horrible disaster, we WERE under a flash-flood warning.
Which, no shit, Sherlock. The river looks as pregnant as half my Facebook feed.
I continued reading what the National Weather Center had to say about this particular warning, wondering if this here part of the Fox River was to be submerged that day. Turns out, not that day, but it did give me a particular bit of wisdom I can’t get out of my head for the life of me.
This message informed me that in the event that I should encounter a standing body of water on the road, rather than say, “Wow, my car needed washing anyway!” and truck on through, I should instead “Turn around. Don’t drown.”
I can’t tell you why this stuck with me long enough to tell my coworkers about it a couple of hours later (and, I should add, not having encountered any bodies of water on the ground or elsewhere), but it did. It’s not a particularly funny statement – the idea of drowning in a car is fucking freaky as fuck – and it’s not even a particularly useful statement.
I mean, SIGNAL YOUR INTENT can be applied to just about everything you do, ever…
Wanna go on a date? SIGNAL YOUR INTENT.
Want to eat? SIGNAL YOUR INTENT.
Want to lounge around in your underwear? CLOSE THE BLINDS, THUS SIGNALLING YOUR INTENT.
…but “Turn Around. Don’t Drown?” I can’t come up with a single other instance in which those words, in that order, would tumble from my mouth.
My coworkers seemed similarly befuddled by the sentiment and I vowed to cross-stitch it on something, well, if I cross-stitched anything ever, which I am pleased to say that I do not. We also told one another as we passed in the halls, “Turn around. Don’t drown,” for no particular reason whatsoever.
This morning, one of my coworkers frantically ran into my office, and, not noticing that I was in the midst of a particularly important conference call, practically screamed, “THEY’VE EXTENDED THE THUNDERSTORM WARNING UNTIL 12:15!”
I craned my neck to look outside, thought, “yup, sure is dark out there,” before shrugging at her and returning to my call. It’s April in Illinois. Thunderstorms are as omnipresent as deep dish pizza and a deep abiding hatred of Wisconsin.
Once I hung up the phone, I decided that I probably SHOULD see what sort of weather I was going to have to deal with some 9.5 hours later when I decided to leave Not Chicago. The Weather Thingy told me that St. Charles DID have… not 4. Not 5. But SIX entire warnings and not a DAMN one of them about the fish.
(won’t someone think of the fish?!?!)
I clicked on each of the six blinking advisories to see what would ACTUALLY apply to me and, upon scrolling down through the “you’re probably gonna wanna get the balls outta there,” I noted something. Something major.
“Hey Ames,” I said to my coworker who happens to have the misfortune of sharing an office with me.
She put down her paperwork and looked at me, “Yeah?”
“THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE THINGY DOESN’T TELL ME TO DO WHAT I’M SUPPOSED TO DO.”
She blinked at me.
“What do I do if I encounter still-standing water on the road? DOES THAT MEAN IT’S TIME TO WASH MY CAR AND/OR SHOW OFF MY MAD OFF-ROADING ABILITIES?”
She blinked again.
“Duh,” she said. “TURN AROUND, DON’T DROWN.”
And just like that, I lost my ability to retain any new phone numbers so that TURN AROUND, DON’T DROWN can forever live in my subconscious*.
*And yours too!