The fellow who calls himself "Irritated Tulsan" says he's had this article kicking around for a while, but he didn't post it to his blog because, he said, "When I passed this one around, my friends said, 'Do not post this'."

Let the record show that I waited for a week before coming up with a response.

The May 10, 2008 tornado destroyed what was left of Picher, Oklahoma.

The next day on the news I see a story of a man who is digging through rubble to find memorabilia. The woman interviewed said, "He is truly a hero."

No, he is not a hero; he is a man digging through trash.

Does everyone in Picher have a survivor story?

How many more stories are we expected to listen to?

A tornado destroyed a superfund site that should have already been cleared of people. One mention of lead contamination in my home, and I will be packed and moved by the hour.

If I am somewhere I should not be, or doing something I should not be doing, I will suffer consequences. This is called the "Self-Cleaning Oven" theory.

For example, when someone drives 165 mph into the back of a diesel, they will die. They were stupid. This is because the "Self-Cleaning Oven" theory removed them from humanity. One less stupid person. Self-cleaning.

When someone with a meth lab blows themselves up, it is the "Self-Cleaning Oven" theory at work. One less leech sucking whatever is good off society.

I sympathize with the people who lost family members, but not everyone. Weren't you already prepared for the town to be demolished anyway? Nature came through and took care of the work with its own "Self-Cleaning Oven."

The real victims here are not the people that were hit by the tornado, but the people who have to keep hearing survivor stories on the evening news. When will viewer survivor stories hit the headlines?

The paragraph to which I take greatest exception is the last, simply because no one has to hear survivor stories on the evening news. Many of us who value our remaining brain cells have given up the evening news entirely, and not just because of the threat of survivor stories.

As for "packed and moved by the hour," well, there's this:

[S]he can't leave the land she's lived on for decades, where the forsythias her parents planted bloom and the best memories with her late husband were made.

People have attachments, not to mere houses, but to their homes and to the land, even if that land isn't what it used to be. And yes, sometimes it sounds like they're in denial:

"I've got four college degrees, and I grew up playing in the chat piles and swimming in the mill ponds. If I'm lead-damaged, by God, what would I have been, another Albert Einstein?"

So I can't bring myself to fault anyone who chooses to stay as long as possible, especially this guy:

[T]he lights are bright inside the Ole Miners Pharmacy where Gary Linderman, 53, counts out pills and fills another prescription.

"As long as I can possibly stay, I'll be here," Linderman says.

If kindness and generosity alone could heal, the pharmacist would have put himself out of business years ago. Most of Picher's residents are low-income and elderly, and he delivers their medicine for free and sometimes free medicine, by dipping into his own pocket when needed.

That said, anyone who plows into the backside of a diesel at 165 mph, or even half that, needed to be removed from the gene pool pronto, and the only good meth lab is an exploding meth lab.

And I have a self-cleaning oven. To get it to "clean itself," you have to lock the door and crank the heat up to around 900 degrees Fahrenheit. This is about as unnatural a process as exists in a contemporary kitchen, and I speak as someone who has eaten Hot Pockets and lived to tell.

The Vent

  17 October 2008

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 Copyright © 2008 by Charles G. Hill