I felt the earth shake

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 6, 2003

I woke up early last Tuesday morning with the news that North Alabama had experienced an earthquake.

An earthquake. The earth moved. The fact that I slept through the whole thing doesn’t change the fact that this has blown my mind.

I can deal with tornadoes, heavy rain and even golf-ball-sized hail. I cannot handle the ground moving beneath my feet.

Still, I’ve tried to keep things in perspective. It was something like a 4.5 on the Richter scale, which, according to earthquake experts, can cause moderate damage. Thankfully, it did not.

The morning news shows were swamped with stories of the earthquake. Television personalities were interviewing people at Waffle House (probably the only place that was open at 3:30 a.m. when The Big One hit).

The consensus was generally this: &uot;We thought we felt something, but we figured it was just a truck going by.&uot;

By 7 a.m., the story was on CNN. &uot;Mild earthquake felt in Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, Kentucky and South Carolina,&uot; the news announcer said.

And that’s when it hit me.

Any minute now, the newscasters are going to interview the woman in the hair curlers who is standing on her front lawn wearing a floral bathrobe and slippers describing the whole incident. It will go something like this…

&uot;I was up at 3:30 a.m. making daddy some squirrel dumplins’ when I heard this noise. It sounded like a train so I yelled at daddy ‘the train done gone off the tracks again.’ He said I was crazy but I done felt it. It had to be like a 104 on the rickety scale.&uot;

She will go on to say her velvet Elvis painting fell off the wall as a result of the tremendous tremors.

And this is the telecast that will air across the country.

News channels will not show the fully dressed, well educated person who refers to the Richter scale by its proper name.

This is Alabama and the woman with curlers just makes things more interesting.

And sure enough, by the end of the day, her photo will be shown all across the United States and people will continue to think we live in sheds with Elvis paintings on the wall.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m sure the woman is very nice and it’s only normal for people to have curlers in their hair at 3:30 a.m. and some people think squirrel dumplins are the greatest things since, well, sliced bread.

That doesn’t mean we should get on television looking like that – earthquake or no earthquake.

Let’s keep our hair curlers and velvet Elvises to ourselves.

Leada Devaney is the publisher of the Hartselle Enquirer and the Madison County Record. She is the former managing editor of the Shelby County Reporter