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French Toast Emergencies - Learning Not To Panic
Has anyone other than myself noticed that the moment a snowflake hits the ground people lose their freaking minds? The same phenomenon happens when any kind of rain hits the road. People forget how to drive.
I don't know why this happens, it just does.
For anyone that lives outside of the Tri-state area, let me tell you what happens the moment snow is forecast on television. Everyone anticipates a craving for french toast. And they have to have it no matter what. Why do I say this? Easy. It's due to the inexplicable run on milk, eggs, and bread that happen the night before a storm. Even if the storm doesn't happen, it's always the same thing.
Hey, quick culinary question: What are the ingredients for french toast? Milk, eggs, and bread (and cinnamon if you want to get fancy).
People panic - plain and simple.
They have an innate fear they'll be snowed in their houses and be stuck with sour milk, stale bread, and rotten eggs. Which is highly unlikely, of course. If you're like me, you buy eggs in boxes of eighteen. Milk, eggs, and bread are the last things I worry about during a snow storm. If I'm down to my last egg, I'll opt for oatmeal which is the thing you should be eating when it snows anyway.
Shut up, it's good for you.
Normally, when a storm comes, I worry about things like water, heat, electricity, and whether my VCR and DVD players are working properly. I can live without eating milk, eggs, or bread for more than one or EVEN TWO days. I won't go through yolk withdrawal or have an immediate need for yeast products (okay, maybe beer).
But one thing is for sure, I will not panic.
Putting Things in Perspective - We Have It Easy
I survived the blizzard of 1996. I remember it very well. The day before the storm was spring-like. My landlady, at the time, was having a barbeque in her backyard. It was a beautiful day. The forecast of snow was literally a joke. And then it happened - SNOW out of nowhere. 40 some odd inches of the stuff. I couldn't go to work because not only were the buses not running but the PATH trains weren't running either. I couldn't go to work if I wanted to. And I didn't have milk, eggs, or bread, either. My wife and I lived off of whatever was left in the fridge and I watched old movies and played video games for 3 days.
In 2012, I also survived without heat, electricity, and any kind of hot water during Hurricane Sandy, as well as the frozen aftermath that brought down tree branches, telephone lines, cell towers, and all manner of conveniences.
And you know what? I lived.
The saddest instance I can remember was that in March 2001 when the "storm of the century" was predicted. I remember that one as well. I left a perfectly good St. Patrick's Day party in Staten Island to try to beat the storm. And let me tell you, I drove through the "storm of the century". I got home to Freehold and I watched the snow fall as it failed to cover the height of the grass.
It was pathetic. Every weather forecaster got it wrong except for Alan Casper on NJ 101.5, who said that he didn't think it was going to be bad at all. And the one thing I can definitely tell you was that the stores were free of milk, eggs, and bread.
People frighten easily.
When did competent mature adults turn into a bunch of gun shy trembling old ladies? When did it happen when, "I've fallen and I can't get up" was no longer funny? (I still laugh my ass off.) OH NO! Don't let it snow! I might be indoors for more than a DAY! I think people are afraid that we'll have a Donner Family Christmas Special (subtitled - What To Do On A Snow Day).
I tell you as rational human beings we are better than the pieces of quivering jello the modern media is frightening us into.
What would happen if the pioneers could see us now? Have we become a weak willed bunch of pansies? They'd be ashamed. Modern parents have become a bubble wrap generation - so scared that their child could come in contact with something that could hurt them that they overdo it.
Imagine what a pioneer would say if he heard a modern adult panic that he didn't have fresh milk in the house before a snow storm?
Depending on what they're going to do for you, some pack for you, load and unload from the truck. Just be sure they do what you told them to.
You rent the truck. You drive the truck. You load and unload the truck. Get friends to help.
Stuff first and Furniture second
More expensive than you'd think
Beyond your imagination
Plans Fail. Deal with It.
I try to not make fun of people who try to be prepared. After all, I was a boy scout. I don't make fun of having a "plan B." Having a backup plan is a reasonable precaution that only makes sense. But there is such a thing as being too cautious. And people who exercise too much caution are the first ones in a straight jacket.
Believe me, I came really close to seeing those buckles up close.
I have a story of watching all my plans fall apart and had to make do.
It was two days before we closed on our first home in Freehold. My wife and I were going crazy, moving stuff out of our apartment in Secaucus to my Grandmother's basement in Bricktown, NJ where I was storing some of my stuff. I was trying to create less cargo for the movers and make my move cheaper. In absence of a truck or SUV, I was using our Honda Accord to transport all of the stuff from place to place and making many trips down south multiple trips.
On top of all of this, my sister was getting married the DAY AFTER we closed on the house and I was in the wedding party. The wedding ceremony and reception was in Howell.
Logistically everything was pretty tight and there was no wiggle room.
As this was our first house purchase, I was as frantic as a hemophiliac in a razor factory. On top of all the trifles of moving and wedding, we had financial issues to consider. Would we have enough money in the bank for the closing? What was the number we had to bring? Would we be able to get to the bank with the cashier's check, drive down to Howell (on a Friday) take care of business and then get to the wedding rehearsal dinner that night? It was a lot to consider.
Moving day was the Monday after the wedding.
I tried to make a time table that would ensure some amount of comfort and efficiency to keep us happy and sane. I got my father to move one or two things that were bulky and could be transported in his car which would save me a trip.
Here's what was supposed to happen.
On Wednesday, after I get home from work, I pack, drive and come back. On Thursday, I pack, move stuff, and drive down to Bricktown twice.
On Friday morning, I get the closing cost number from our lawyer for the house and then pick up the cashier's check from my bank in Jersey City. Then I drive down to Howell to my parents' house to drop off my dog. From there I go to my lawyer's office to do a "walk through" in the house - then go to the DMV to change my address on my license so I can get a parking pass for my future commute from Freehold to New York City.
Once I have the pass, I pick up my dog from my parents' house and take him to the new house and spend time with him until I put him in his crate to go to the seven o'clock wedding rehearsal, dinner. Come back from the rehearsal dinner and sleep in a sleeping bag at the new house.
On Saturday, I had to pick up my tux in Middletown, come back, shower at the new house and then go to my parents after taking care of the dog. I had to be with the wedding party for pictures. The rest of Saturday was a wash. Go home to take care of the dog, and then go back to Secaucus. Sleep. On Sunday, I'd do one last round of moving from Secaucus to Bricktown and finish up for the movers that were coming on Monday morning at 10:AM.
That's what was supposed to happen. The excrement hit the rotating air circulation device on Wednesday.
Wednesday, on one of the trips to the storage bin, the muffler fell out of the Accord. The plan I had was contingent really on one real thing - that we had two cars. One for me to move things and one for my wife to get around and do other things. My parents could not help because they were involved with stuff for my sister's wedding and we really had no one else to turn to.
So, what happened? (Other than my confirmation that there was no existence of a kind loving beneficial God. The one that was in charge at the time was the "Old-Testament-make-Moses-wander-the-desert-for-40-years-for-one-indiscretion" God.)
Bright and early the next morning, the day before the closing, I took the car to Midas and had the car fixed. This ate away at the comfort margin that we had for wedding and closing plans as I had to stay with the car and wait for the repairs to happen. Non stop packing and practically no sleep for 4 days.
The point I'm trying to make is I had an entire itinerary meticulously planned out and the one contingency I did not account for Murphy's Law took screwed with.
Do you feel you're usually prepared for the unexpected?
This story and article came from a website I had called "Vikar's Rant". This finished product has been dusted off, cleaned up, and redone. When I originally wrote it, I was a very different person. I had very extreme views - some of which have evaporated and others only come out when the alcohol is flowing and my tongue has loosened a bit.
That article was written back in 2003 - twelve years ago. Since then, I've gone through Hurricane Sandy, Hurricane Irene, and a plethora of snow storms that have been marketed as "The Storm of the Century". Regardless of the year or the storm, there are still people who panic and need their french toast. Now, instead of getting angry or disappointed, I sit back and laugh.
The issue isn't whether people are panicking and going out to get their eggs, milk, and bread. The issue is whether they feel they have a handle on a situation. It is similar to when a child thinks a blanket in the right circumstances will protect him from an oncoming boulder that's coming for his head. The world is going to pot, but I can still have my eggs in the morning with a cup of joe and some toast.
That way they feel better and the dairy, poultry, and grain markets get a small boost in sales. The economy keeps chugging along and even if nothing happens, the cupboard is full.
A Buddhist would say that we have very little control over what happens to us in our lives. What we do have control over is how we react to how life bats us about. For it is easier to cover the soles of our feet with shoe leather than to cover the entire earth with it to keep our feet safe.
Nowadays, when people tell me that I should err on the side of caution, I say they should have a couple of slices of french toast... with cinnamon.
© 2015 Christopher Peruzzi