About three years ago, the area in which I live was hit with a massive storm, which contained straight-line winds. These winds did amazing damage in a very short time. Many in the area were without electricity for up to a week. Most were unprepared.
Because trees were down and electricity was out, it was nearly impossible to get gas. The roads were closed or the gas stations were closed. That’s an eye-opening experience.
People had damage to their homes. They lost freezers full of food. Some lost animals. The weather was hot and humid. It was a difficult time. Even nearly ten months later the consequences are still being felt with people dealing with insurance and trying to get their homes fixed. Any time the forecast calls for high winds, the Facebook group for the community sends out warnings to batten down the hatches and prepare for the worst. We’re very gun shy when it comes to storms.
We knew that thunderstorms were forecasted but had no idea the winds would be so destructive. In this scenario, we knew it would take a bit of time for the power to come on but there was light at the end of the tunnel. We rejoiced for each other as certain neighborhoods had their electricity restored. For the most part, I saw communities come together to serve one another and support the local authorities trying to restore order.
Since the storm, I’ve seen a greater need for preparedness emerge from the community. They have generators now at the very least. They’ve learned what to do when power goes out. They had to learn the hard way unfortunately, but it wasn’t cataclysmic as some disasters are.
All of the reactions witnessed during a crisis can actually be seen in the few seconds of a baseball game.
A few years ago, my older daughters gave me and my husband a couple tickets to a Phillies’ game for our birthdays. (Our birthdays are three days apart.)
The game was held in April and it was still pretty chilly in the evenings so we were dressed quite warmly. We had sweet seats. First row, center field.
We went early and got a cheesesteak and crab fries and settled down to watch the end of batting practice. We enjoyed watching the stadium fill up and felt the excitement of all the fans. Great date night and perfect birthday present.
We chatted with the men to the left of us. A couple of older gentlemen friends out for a ball game. They were fun. The fellow to the right of us was recently out of the military. Nice guy. Good people around us and the game began.
During the fifth inning, a ball was hit with the potential of being a homerun. Only problem? It had my seat number written all over it. As exciting as homerun balls are, I really have no desire to catch one. Mostly because I know it will hurt me. I’m a wuss. I have no desire to feel pain. In this case, I pulled my coat over my head and cowered behind my husband. Unfortunately for all the brave men surrounding me, the ball hit at the top of the wall on the field side. Fortunately for me, I was safe.
I have pondered over this experience many times and can see every aspect of preparedness in a situation that maybe lasted 10 seconds. To learn a lesson in 10 seconds without pain is a win-win for me.
Let’s talk about my reaction first. If there were sand, I would’ve put my head in it. Instead, I hid behind my husband. That’s how I handled the impending disaster.
I’ve seen the same behavior in the majority of people when threatened with a hurricane or snowstorm or other potential threat to their safety. They seem to put their fingers in their ears, close their eyes and chant, “I can’t hear you. I can’t hear you.” Hoping to not have to think about what could happen. Like me, they just want to live their lives without fear of pain. They’re spectators in life. Here to have a great day, every day. That’s how I felt about the ball game. I was just there to have a little fun, not to get hit by a ball.
I think I’m the minority when it comes to reactions to homerun balls. Most people stand up and hoot and holler in joyful anticipation of catching said ball. Many men surrounded me with confident bare hands convinced they would be the one to catch the ball. I’m very grateful for those men, because I do believe they would’ve at least deflected the ball from hitting me.
Similarly, many think they can just “muscle through” a disaster. It won’t be that bad, they’ll just ride it out. They’re not prepared with any equipment at all, just a false hope that they will survive with little affect. They also attempt to deflect the potential severity of the circumstance by accusing the authorities of not knowing what’s really going on. The weather forecasters for instance. “They’re never right.” “They make it bigger than it’ll be because they want ratings.” Or when law enforcement suggests that there could be traffic issues because of a big event in a city but we don’t listen. This list could go on and on to cover every potential threat to our safety. Just remember, YOU may be able to muscle through a situation but others around may not.
Although I was hiding behind my husband, I knew the guy to our right had brought his baseball glove. He was standing up with all the other guys hoping to be the lucky one and catch that ball. He was a bit inebriated so I was doubtful that was going to end well for him but I didn’t care as long as I didn’t get hit. I did wonder how long ago it had been since that the fellow had used that glove and would he be successful while under the influence. I was just thankful he was prepared and had confidence he would be the lucky one.
3. False Confidence
I think of the many who have purchased all sorts of equipment to be prepared but they never practice with it. They may not even know where it is so when they need it they can’t find it. It’s easy to buy stuff. The true skill is knowing how to confidently use it. When circumstances arise necessitating the use of emergency equipment, no matter how dire the situation is, time is important. In general, people are not patient and are on edge during times of stress. Learning how to make a fire comes before the skill is needed not during. Knowing how to cook without electricity needs to be mastered before there is no electricity. Again, that list can go on and on.
Back to the ball game. I have a picture of where the ball hit. There’s a small ball-shaped chalky mark left on the edge of the wall just at my feet but on the other side of the outfield fence. What a relief!
The excitement of the potential homerun ball smacking me in the head temporally distracted me from the actual baseball game. I don’t know if the ball was caught off the wall or if it hit the wall, took a crazy bounce and was hunted down by a player to end the play. I don’t know, because I wasn’t exactly present in my state of cowering. What I do know is that the players knew exactly what to do in that situation.
4. Practice, Practice, Practice
Those baseball players have been playing ball since they were eight years old or younger. They’ve practiced every scenario and used their knowledge and experience to get the ball, throw it to the right player and hopefully get an out. Over and over and over again. This wasn’t a surprise for them. They weren’t scared of the ball. They had the proper equipment and knew how to use it. They’re bodies were strong from exercise and practice. They’ve watched “tape” on their competition. They were prepared.
As for our family in the aftermath of the storm, we did pretty well. We were closer to the baseball players in our experience after the storm. Not quite professional and still in need of some practice but we were able to serve others because our needs were met.
Enjoy the new baseball season as it approaches. Identify areas where you can improve your prepping game. You never know when you’ll need to play a ball off the wall.