When TV Towers Sprout, Bad News Is Near

When I drove in to work this morning and reached the heart of downtown, where our office is, traffic had begun to back up.  After I parked the car and walked to our building, I saw a TV station truck with one those spiral broadcast towers fully extended, looking like an alien invader from War of the Worlds.

As soon as I saw it, I got that familiar sick and sinking feeling.  If you live in an urban area, you know that seeing an extended TV van antenna always means bad news.  It’s like waking up in the middle of the night and seeing the Grim Reaper standing in your bedroom, holding his scythe and pointing a bony finger at you.  You know that the spiral tower means somebody is making a live report, which means that they’re covering the scene of a crime, and they only dispatch the truck if the crime is a serious and probably deadly one.

Sure enough, about a block from our office a body had been found, of the victim of an apparent robbery and stabbing.  The remains were covered with a sheet and partially shielded by low fencing, of the kind you might see around a manhole when the Sewer Department is doing some work.  It was an ugly, shabby scene, a disturbing sight at the beginning of another workday.  When I saw the TV tower, I should have known, and I shouldn’t have looked.

Powerless

When awful news happens, and bad news strikes again and again, and events are buffeting the little world around you, you feel powerless. Now Mother Nature has decided to take that figurative feeling and turn it into literal reality.

A huge and violent thunderstorm cell blew through Columbus last night, and it has knocked out the power grid for wide swaths of the area. The storm blew down trees and branches and felled power lines, and we’ve now been without power since 5 p.m. last night.

This period of powerlessness is unheard of — and it also shows how spoiled we’ve become. A few hours sweltering in a hot house on a summer’s day, and you’d think from the complaining that we’d been asked to endure the unendurable. We’ll have some spoiled food, and some time without Internet access, and earlier bedtimes than normal. No big deal, really.

Still, I must confess that when I entered an air-conditioned room this afternoon I did breathe an audible sigh of satisfaction.