by Elizabeth Bussey Sowdal
have lived in several
different parts of the United States and I have to say that I like Oklahoma. I
like Oklahomans. I have always found them to be friendly, considerate, helpful
people. In a word, nice. The vast majority of Oklahomans are nice people. Down-to-earth,
kind, modest, charitable. Once I was driving down the road with a VW van full
of Cub Scouts and out of the blue the engine died and would not start again. We
were on Classen Avenue, in the left hand lane in rather heavy late afternoon traffic.
There was a truck in the lane behind us. We were going nowhere fast and I began
to fret. The last thing I needed was a big ol’ truck behind me blaring it’s horn
for me to get out of the way when there was nowhere for me to go and no way to
get there. And, you will be happy to know, that is not what I got.|
I got was four strong, young, handsome house painters who hopped out of that big
ol’ truck and pushed that van full of Cub Scouts safely into a nearby parking
lot for us. We gave them a great big Bear Cub growl and salute by way of thanks
and I called my husband to come do his Volkswagen voodoo. All was well and a bad
situation was made better by some kind Oklahoman strangers.
This is just
one example of the Oklahoma Spirit and I am sure that you are not surprised by
it. I could relate other more dramatic examples, but you already know many, I
am sure. In addition to being awfully nice people, I have found Oklahomans to
be very modest as well. Most of the time. There is one thing, however that Oklahomans
can be a little cocky about.
Oklahomans can be a little cocky when it
comes to their weather. You might argue that they have earned that right, and
I would have to agree. I grew up in southwestern New Mexico and to my knowledge,
we didn’t have tornadoes. We had whipping wind in the spring. We had dust devils
that reached way up high in the sky. We had some pretty dramatic thunderstorms.
But I don’t remember hearing about any tornadoes. As a result of not having grown
up with tornadoes, I do not like them. A bit. I know Oklahomans – a lot of Oklahomans–
who pop right outside onto their front porches to watch when they hear that siren.
Not me. I run for cover. Can’t help it. When my children were little they intuitively
picked up on the subtle clues that Mommy was frightened and they became frightened
as well. Maybe they were subconsciously aware of my increased respiratory rate,
or my faintly trembling hands. Maybe the mother/ child bond was so strong that
my distress telegraphed itself psychically. Or maybe their sharp little ears noted
the sound of me shrieking, "Get your shoes on and get in the closet! We are all
going to die! I love you babies, never forget that!"
My husband, the native
Oklahoman, was left to do damage control. A job he is well suited for, as he is
unflutterable. While the children were growing up, Mike would wait until the weatherman
said something like, "Sowdal family, find your shoes! You are going to die!" and
then he would stand up and stretch. He’d say something like, "All this storm talk
sure has made me hungry for a candy bar. Any of you kids want one?" They all did,
every time, what a surprise, and off Michael would go into the horizontal rain
and crashing thunder for a round of convenience store candy bars. Just to make
the point that there was really nothing to worry about.
There was a big
storm heading for OKC the other evening just as my shift ended. I called Mike.
Should I wait for a while? "Nah, you’re okay. Just pull over if it gets bad."
What should I do if it gets bad? Should I crawl under the car? "Nah, just pull
into McDonald’s." Why? Do they have storm shelters at McDonald’s? "Nope, but they
do have Chicken McNuggets." Cocky booger.