I have been in Texas for almost exactly one year, and I have noticed that Texans do not panic. And as a newcomer, this is quite problematic for me, because in new and unfamiliar situations, I look to those around me in order to know how quickly and to what degree I should be freaking out. Here are a few examples.
I am sitting in a nail salon watching the sky outside darken, and I hear phone alerts going off around me. Ladies are calmly checking their phones for the latest weather advisory as they continue chatting and sipping fancy lemon-water. The phone warnings keep getting louder and more urgent. I look at these women’s faces. Help me out here ladies. I’m new to tornado warnings. Are we supposed to panic? Should I be heading to the basement? Oh crap! There are no basements! I sit with my pretty red toenails under the dryer and continue to look at my fellow pedicurians for the slightest sign of worry. I don’t see it! But as the phones continue to alarm and the rain comes down harder and the wind is whipping the trees around, I decide to be my own woman and panic to the very best of my ability. To hell with my pretty, not-quite-yet-dry nails. The nice salon workers calmly check me out and tell me to have a nice afternoon.
A co-worker tells me that there was once a snake in her office. Um what? Did you say a snake? “Oh-my gosh! What did you do?” I ask horrified, thinking she must have called some special Texas dangerous reptile hotline.
“I caught it in the recycling bucket and took it outside,” she says.
Pardon me? You what?
I overhear another co-worker, a single young lady; telling about a coyote that was near her house and acting abnormally the previous evening. It was getting too close and didn’t seem at all scared of her, or her dogs. She couldn’t get it to go away. Again, I ask, “Oh my gosh! What did you do?”
“I shot it,” she says.
“You shot it?”
“Not to kill it. Just to scare it.”
Oh of course! Just to scare it.
See what I mean? Texans do not panic! I am pretty sure that even if a tornado were actually in sight, headed straight for her house, a Texan would just look calmly at her kids, tell them to climb in the bathtub for a few minutes, and to bring some snacks while they were at it.
Listen. I am from the North and I am not used to venomous creatures, tornadoes or shooting stuff. So be assured that in situations of which I am unsure, I will panic. Just to let you know, if the TV says there is a tornado warning, I will be in my closet with my bike helmet securely fastened.
And co-workers, if I miss work for a few days, you can assume that I have barricaded myself in my house because there is a rattlesnake in my yard and I am waiting for it to leave of it’s own volition.
But I’ll tell you what, if there is ever a zombie apocalypse, I want to be with the Texans. I’ll be running around freaking out yelling, “ZOMBIES!!!”
They’ll be like, “Yup.”
“Just climb in the bathtub for a few minutes.”
Then they’ll shoot the zombies and stuff ‘em in a recycling bucket.
If I ever do see a Texan panic, I’m throwing in the towel. It will mean the end of the world has truly come. No doubt about it.