it's my terror alert and i'll laugh if i want to
Yes, this one seems serious. So why am I making jokes?
When the color coded chart was first established, the level moved up and down so fast the entire nation suffered from terror whiplash. It became somewhat of a joke, and every time Ridge warned us once again to be careful and Ashcroft told us to stay vigilant and Home Depot had a sale on duct tape, we would laugh at the story of the Government that Cried Wolf.
The fire alarm in my office building goes off frequently. We stopped paying attention to it. The alarm is ringing, ringing, ringing and I just continue on with what I was doing, not even flinching when the first bell pierces the air. But when that alarm goes off and is followed by the sound of a court officer yelling Get out of the building! I run.
Ridge is that court officer yelling at me to get out. He's saying, in essence, that this is serious. This is real. They stopped messing with our heads a long time ago. They realized eventually that the chart was becoming a joke. So now when they raise it, it sets off an alarm in my head.
So what do we do? There's really not much you can do, is there? I keep wrapping the Christmas presents and making plans for my upcoming work vacation. And yes, I make jokes about the color change because I'd rather die laughing than die curled up in a fetal position in a closet.
But I suddenly find myself back to those panicky post-9/11 days, looking at the planes overhead, waiting for a giant shoe to drop. Forgive me if I appear to be laughing it off - nervous laughter is sometimes the only defense we have against panic and fright.
Laugh and the world laughs with you. Panic and they'll laugh at you. So pardon my sneaker color alert system, and excuse my laughter at the expense of ready.gov.
I'm going out smiling.