So my Aunt, whom I’ll call Auntie M, went to a bank and withdrew five thousand dollars in cash from an education fund. She then went across the street to a different bank, and tried to deposit that cash in her grandson’s account. She thought they were going to arrest her for attempted money laundering.
“Why would she do that?” I asked my mother. “Why not just get a bank money order instead?”
“It’s tactile,” Bro explained. “When I won thirty grand (via a scratch ticket), the first thing I did was withdraw ten thousand dollars in cash. I’d never had that kind of money before, and I wanted to feel it.”
“And what did you do with all that cash?” I asked.
“Zee (his wife) slept on the couch that night,” he replied. “Let’s just say it probably should have been laundered after that.”
It was Saturday night, so we were doing our usual sitting around and drinking. I think maybe I should get another hobby. This one is getting hard on my wallet and my liver.
At any rate, hurricane Earl had just blown through the province and we’d gotten out of it with only a short power loss and a mess in the front and back yards. I’d like to think it was my careful planning and preparation that got us through the storm in such great shape, but the truth is that compared to the infamous hurricane Juan that tore through the province 7 years ago, Earl was a pussy.
We’d known about Earl coming for a week but despite this I didn’t get around to preparing anything until Friday after work. I like to claim I work better under pressure, but the truth is my idea of pressure strongly resembles last minute panic.
In anticipation of Earl’s wrath I: did the dishes and the laundry; moved electronics away from the windows; tied down the garbage cans with bungee cords; filled the bathtub; bought some bottled water; and walked up to the store to find a BBQ lighter to light the candles that I had managed to unearth from the countless boxes we are generating for our move next week.
When Earl hit the next morning I got up and shut a couple of the windows and went back to bed. We lost power for about 40 minutes around noon, but that was really just a minor inconvenience. It was almost disappointing because by comparison hurricane Juan was a real bastard.
One of the really great things about Nova Scotia is that we are not Florida or North Carolina so our exposure to hurricanes is pretty low. A storm has to be really big to make it this far north and survive the cooler water temperatures to still be graded as a hurricane by the time it reaches this province.
This time around Earl was helped out by our record breaking hot summer, so the water was about four degrees warmer than usual. It’s why he didn’t downgrade to a tropical storm before making landfall near Mahone Bay, but remained a low level category one hurricane.
Juan was projected to also be a low level category one hurricane, and seven years ago no one in Halifax was taking him seriously, including the media. We were told to lash down our patio furniture and garbage cans. There were perhaps scattered mentions by the local newscasters that we might want to stock up on supplies, but most of the city just expected some wind and rain – which is not unusual in a northern coastal city – and that would be the end of it.
We brought our patio furniture inside and tied down the BBQ. That was the extent of our preparation for Juan. When he hit us in the dead of night he was a high level category one, some reports say even a low level category two, but all I know is that I thought the roof was going to fly off of the small apartment complex we were living in.
The roof was buckling up and down so much that my door, which faced onto a closed hallway, was rattling hard enough to wake me. I could also see it snapping against the frame which was being stretched to its breaking point, as there was an odd yellow haze coming through my bedroom window. I looked out and saw massive branches whipping past my little red sports car. Entire trees were rolling down the street, to say nothing of unsecured patio furniture and garbage cans.
Above the wail of the storm and the driving of the rain though, I heard another noise which puzzled me. I gingerly opened my door, stepped out into the hallway, and shuffled out to the living room. Beneath the open windows lay my brother on one sofa and my father on another. They were sleeping contentedly, their snoring clearly audible above the roar of the wind and rain that was driving in on them.
They slept through the whole damned thing while Mom and I huddled against the windows, staring out into the bizarrely coloured night at the strange monster that was attacking the city. We were without power for a full five days, which meant that we were one of the lucky ones who got it back first. We had to BBQ all of our food lest it spoil, and we had great fun passing food along to the neighbors on their balconies, while they reciprocated in kind.
Bro actually found a Tim Horton’s open (they had a generator) and waited in line for two hours to get us coffee while we baked ourselves in the parked car. The lineup wrapped three or four times around the coffee shop itself. A total stranger offered him fifty bucks for his coffees once he got them.
“Not a chance,” replied Bro.
We love our coffee, and by then we were two days into a nasty forced withdrawal.
Hurricane Juan was an unforgettable experience but not one I ever care to repeat. I’m glad Earl turned out to be such a wimp. I do so hate bullies.