June first is the start of hurricane season, something we keep a close eye on here in Florida. The local paper published a special section with a color photo of a satellite image of Florida completely covered by a gigantic hurricane. The headline in huge letters announced: It Only Takes One. It was full of nice little stories of how babies get sucked out of their mother's arms and that we shouldn't count on any assistance for up to a week after a major storm. I love it how they're not trying to scare us or anything. But it got me thinking, I've lived in a bunch of places and each place had it own special disaster, just waiting to happen. So here are the things that have kept me up at night, in chronological order.
Germany: My husband and I lived in military housing in Germany right after 9/11. In the aftermath of our invasion of Afghanistan, we started getting regular protesters marching and waving signs at the entrance to the base. They were peaceful for the most part, though we'd get emails from the public affairs officer advising us to stay the hell away from them. As a Jew, with a grandfather who survived the holocaust and a 3 year aunt who didn't, I found these profoundly pacifist protesters highly ironic. But for the most part, I just worried they'd block the drive and I wouldn't be able to get to my apartment. My car was searched every time I entered the post, so I suppose that I worried about being a terrorist target. In helpful public service announcements, we were advised to try not to look "American" when we went out in the general public, because heaven knows what evil-doer is out there, waiting for a tender little American target to walk by.
Texas: Mostly I worried about floods, snakes, scorpions, and not drinking enough horchata.
Tennessee: Tornadoes. First time in my life I was glued to the television watching StormTracker keep tabs on all the tornadoes touching down in my county. Then the power went out and I was left in a house with no basement (bad) and no rooms without windows (very bad) in the middle of a tornado warning, trying to decide if spending the night crouched in the closet was a good idea or not. I decided to take my chances sleeping in bed.
Florida: Hurricanes I obviously knew about before I came here. But once here, I've discovered a whole host of things to worry about. Alligators (especially during mating season), snakes (especially the highly poisonous coral snake, remarkable common in my neck of the woods), poisonous toads, cement eating termites, tornadoes, forest fires, global warming (a serious problem when a house at 20 feet above sea-level is considered a mountain top home), fleas and ticks so strong and immune to repellent that my area is the testing ground for pet medicine, sink holes that can swallow up entire houses, sun stroke, old drivers (probably the most dangerous of all mentioned threats), shark attacks, and lightening strikes--which kill more people in Florida than any other state.
After exclaiming in horror over the poor woman who found an 8 and a half food alligator in her kitchen, the trainer at my gym said, "New York City has nothing on us. The worst someone might do to you there is shoot you. Here you might get eaten!"