If you want to get an entire row to yourself on an airplane--even better, if you want five rows to yourself on an airplane because domestic flights are getting smaller and smaller--try coming back to Southwest Florida on the day of a possible category 2 hurricane.
I flew home to Pennsylvania this weekend and just had to get back to see my first Florida hurricane. I was psyched. I flew standby on the first flight that I could just so I wouldn't miss this chance of the lifetime. 4 a.m. wasn't too early for my young journalistic instinct to wake up and report from the meteorological battle lines. Once I made it back to Florida my entire day was spent in preparation for a wild night.
Our office in Naples is below sea level apparently. Normally that wouldn't be a problem but hurricanes have an uncanny way of affecting things that normally wouldn't be a big deal. So, we needed to get our equipment off the floor and cover things up. Later on we might need that equipment to report to fullest extent possible the massive amount of rain that Ernesto will drop on Southwest Florida.
For an instant in Pittsburg during a layover, I became the best meteorologist in the world. I was keeping track of all the reports coming out of Marconews.com and I believed the storm was going to come off of Cuba and become a category 3. I knew it was going to wrap west and hit right around Collier County.
Not that I was wishing damage nor harm to anyone. But like Nixon to Woodward and Bernstein, Ernesto was going to be the storm that puts my journalistic career on the map.
Fortunately, I am not a meteorologist and I think I am going to have to at least finish college and work at it for a while before I become a good journalist. But I think Ernesto was sort of a disappointment for everyone, especially the Collier school board who canceled school Wednesday while skies were blue.
Reminiscent of predicted snow storms up north that only disrupt planning ahead, Ernesto was all bark and no bite. I look at our message boards on our Web sites and see how people believed that the Marco Eagle and Daily News over-reported the storm. But in all reality people needed the reporting and they read it. I read it.
I guess what it is that I am saying is that a hurricane is like an alligator. Both live in Florida and everyone once in a while we need to be frightened by one. It adds excitement to our lives. Without that excitement we would all be stuck in the same rut doing the same thing because we are creatures of habit. Without a random hurricane or snow storm I wouldn't have any dreams of grandeur nor would I have had a work out on Tuesday piling sandbags in front of the office.
I love Florida for all the things that add color to my life.