You've seen them…those people that are so stupid, so idiotic, caught doing something that is even BEYOND moronic, usually not ending well….
Often times, these stories make their way to the news, usually because the person was SO dumb, SO idiotic - that their act of stupidity resulted (unfortunately) in their death - or at the minimum, injuries. And we are left shaking our heads, wondering, "How could they have been so stupid???!!" And we mentally pat ourselves on our backs, thinking to ourselves, "Thank God that I'M not that stupid…I would NEVER do something so dumb."
I was that stupid idiot last week.
And looking back, I'm left shaking my head, wondering, "How could I have been so STUPID??!! I KNOW better!!!"
Let's back up.
Several days ago, I made a brief solo trip to Orlando, Florida - with the intention of spending a few days at the always-magical (and always-crowded) Walt Disney World. Having a Florida-resident annual pass, I always justify my trips to the House of the Mouse as "saving money" (????), although having seen my credit card statement after these sojourns, I'm not sure how that's true…but it sounds good, right?
So…my first day, I arrive at one of the theme parks at around noon...and due to my somewhat late arrival (any time after 9:00 am is considered "late" in Theme Park World), I'm directed to park my car in Row 46 of the parking lot. Which means I'm 46 rows away from the front entrance…yeah. Basically, the equivalent of a 10k - or six miles. I'm facing a long hike through the sea of cars in order to reach the gates.
If my long trek wasn't daunting enough, the skies have now opened, and there is a TORRENTIAL rainstorm raging, where cats, dogs, - heck, even small children - are falling from the skies. It's raining so hard, and so heavy - that I can't see more than 10" in front of my face.
I'm prepared, though.
A little bit of rain isn't going to keep me from getting my adrenaline rush from a roller coaster - so, donning a poncho, I quickly hop out of my car and began trekking the 150 miles towards the front entrance.
And then it happened.
A quick flash - and then a crack of thunder so LOUD, that I about did a number in my shorts.
Oh, joy. Lightning. I hate lightning. I especially hate lightning in Florida, the Lightning Capital of the World.
I kept walking, though.
And it happened again.
Closer this time.
In fact, the lightning was SOOOO close, that I looked around to see if anyone else was as concerned about this as I was.
And that's when I realized the very scary, and very sobering, fact that I WAS THE ONLY PERSON IN THE PARKING LOT.
Yup. I was truly solo.
Everyone arriving after me was staying safely huddled in their cars for shelter…and all parking lot attendants had hopped on a fast-moving golf cart and had quickly evacuated the parking lot.
I'm freaked out now. I totally feel like one of those poor targets in a video game, with the laser beam of death pointed right at them. Part of my brain starts thinking, "Will I feel tingly before I'm struck? Will my hair stand on end? Will I see a green flash?" And then the other part of my brain starts thinking, "You IDIOT. You need to get out of this. NOW!!!!"
So…which way to go? Do I go back to my car? Or do I trudge ahead to the park entrance, hoping to find shelter? I was at the point in my hike that I was literally half-way between my car and the gates - so either choice, I was basically screwed.
Deciding to make a run to the gates, every few seconds a tremendous flash, followed by a crashing BOOM, had me jumping and holding my breath and sending up quick prayers, saying, "Oh, please, oh please, don't let me get hit!!!!"
Fortunately, I made it.
However, that evening, I discovered that a hotel - less than 1/2 mile from where I was making my run for it - was struck by lightning during this storm, resulting in loss of electricity and an evacuation of the guests.
I was truly a stupid idiot - for not hunkering down in my car and waiting for the storm to pass.
Ironically, today begins Lightning Awareness Week…and already, seven people have been killed this year by lightning in the U.S. I was fortunate that I wasn't the eighth - all because I was anxious to see a Mouse.
Anyway. Be safe, peeps. Take lightning serious. Know what to do if caught outdoors - and don't be an idiot, like yours truly.