Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Minnesota: Currently Giving 106%

by Robison Wells

I know it may seem to you like I'm posting this a day late, but I'm actually not. I'm now in Minnesota, which is a different time zone. Just trust me on this.

As mentioned earlier, I'm interning with ConAgra Foods, marketing Orville Redenbacher. My entire life is popcorn. The one exception: yesterday I sat through nine hours of focus groups, watching on the other side of the mirror while teenagers talked about Slim Jims. So, my life is 90% popcorn and 10% meat snacks.

And, about 4% is looking at the weather, wondering if I'm going to die. I've never before lived in a place with scary weather. In Utah, there's always the fear that your car will slide in the snow, or that your air conditioner will break in the summer and you'll cook like a roasted hot dog. But, in Minnesota, the weather is spooky.

Our first day after arriving here, I was happily puttering about the apartment, when I heard a loud noise. My first thought was that it was a fire alarm coming from an adjoining unit, but it seemed too loud for that--and it wasn't going away. So I ventured down the hall to look for the source of the sound, and was surprised to find that it was louder outside than in. It was an air raid siren--the Germans were bombing us! (Well, that or a tornado.)

I had no idea what to do when the tornado sirens blow, so I consulted the internet. Get down in the basement, wikipedia told me, into an interior room. Put blankets on top of yourself, and a mattress if possible. Well, I like to think of myself as a rather cool cucumber, and I'm not the type to get all freaked out with mattresses. So, we just huddled up in the hallway, surrounded by a little fort of quilts, pillows and couch cushions.

Actually, that's what my wife and kids did, and I sat around the corner, watching the radar on the news. I've watched my fair share of TV weather, but I've never seen a more frightening image. Of course, as you know, the edges of the storm were green, then yellow, then orange, and then red. In Utah, things never get to the red stage. They rarely get to orange. But this thing didn't even stop with red. In the center of the red was a massive white and black clot, moving quickly--directly toward me!

So, I peeked out the window to see if I could see it coming. And, do you know what I saw instead? The neighbor, casually carrying in his groceries from his car, without a care in the world.

Well, the storm came and went and we didn't get sucked up to Oz. The tornado never fully developed, though there was some fierce hail that dented the roof of my car. Now I'm not sure what to think about Minnesota weather. Other than the occassional tornado, it's idyllic. 70 degree days, sun, a little breeze. But everyone also keeps saying that we got here at the perfect time. "Just after the snow and just before the mosquitos," they say. I don't know what to think.

Anyway, one more Minnesota story:

Two days after arriving in Minnesota--the day after the tornado warning--I had to fly to Omaha. Erin dropped me at the airport, we said goodbye, and she drove away. It was while I was going through the metal detectors at the security gate, emptying my pockets, that I discovered I had the key to the apartment.

On the drive over, my wife had casually mentioned that she forgot her phone.

And I don't think I've ever felt so completely helpless. I knew a grand total of zero people in Minnesota. We'd been to church that morning, but I didn't have anyone's phone number. We're subleasing the apartment from another tenant (who has temporarily moved to New York), so I don't even know the manager's name. As you can imagine, it was quite frustrating.

This blog is too long already, and I don't really feel like explaining how the situation was fixed. But suffice it to say that my wife is smart. And, when she finally got into the apartment, my two-year-old son accidentally locked himself in the bedroom for a couple of hours.

So, it's been one of those weeks. 90% popcorn, 10% meat snacks, 4% weather watching and 2% getting locked in (and out).


At 6/11/2008 10:12 AM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...

Well, as long as you're having fun . . .

The key story reminds me of when we arrived at our house in Ireland only to remember that we'd left the house keys at the airport security check in Boston.

We used to live in Arkansas, so I've experienced tornado sirens. One of our classic tornado siren stories is too embarrassing to tell in a public forum, but suffice it to say that I was young and prone to panic.

At 6/11/2008 10:41 AM, Blogger Evil HR Lady said...

Watch out for mosquito season. Don't even THINK about leaving the house without bug repellent.

But MN in the summer is beautiful. You will love it. I miss it.

At 6/11/2008 10:42 AM, Blogger Evil HR Lady said...

Oh, and for a small bribe I'll tell you Stephanie's story.

At 6/11/2008 11:21 AM, Blogger Annette Lyon said...

There's a reason I don't live anywhere tornados. And mosquitoes. I wouldn't handle either well.

And I want to hear the story about how Erin's so smart. I KNOW she is, but it's got to be a good story. The locked in the bedroom part too.

At 6/11/2008 1:11 PM, Anonymous William Morris said...

Minnesota could give 120%, Rob, but we're much too modest and nice to do something like that. Don't want to be showoffs.

At 6/12/2008 11:24 PM, Blogger Heather B. Moore said...

Just wait till the humidity and mosquitos kick in :)

At 6/17/2008 1:53 PM, Blogger Karlene said...

I was buying popcorn yesterday and my usual brand/flavor was out. So I got a different one--Orville's brand. All because you've talked about it. See? When you don't know anything about the various brands, the one you've heard about most often wins. (You should get extra points on your job for influencing this sale.)


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