“Oh, it was so good to see you! Sorry about the weather; it usually doesn’t rain here this time of year. Not this heavy, certainly, and not for a whole week. And that wind! I’ve never seen anything like it before.”
Cousin Joanie couldn’t have been nicer, but she really shouldn’t have to apologize for the weather. After all, it’s not her fault. It’s mine. I should have told her before I came to visit that every time I travel, the weather is so bad that it sets a local record for rain or snow or sleet or temperature.
My brother lives in the mountains, a place renowned for being cool and crisp in the summer. People come there from all over the world to avoid sweating. When I went to visit, suddenly there was a heat wave the likes of which no one alive there had ever experienced. Since it is usually cool, none of the homes had air conditioning. It was impossible to sleep. It was so bad that housing prices started to drop. Rich people flew to Dubai to cool off. As soon as I left, things returned to normal.
You’re welcome, homebuyers who bought during the dip.
My old friend, Travis, asked me to spend some time with him at his lakeside home, where we’d take in the fall foliage. It was spectacular – all those changing leaves peeking out from under the unusually early and totally unprecedented snowfall. One overladen branch broke off and landed on Travis’ Range Rover. He loved that car. He had just bought it.
Sure, it was my fault, but I figured: Why leave? That’s not going to fix his car. I’ll stay a few more days. That turned out to be an error of judgment. Had I left right then, perhaps his porch wouldn’t have collapsed from the weight of the snow. Luckily, no one was injured, and isn’t that the important thing?
“I’ve never seen hail like that before,” said my old classmate, Tim, about 10 minutes after I arrived to visit his brand-new home.
“It stripped the siding right off the house. And look at that – the neighbor’s house is practically untouched. Have you ever seen hail come down in such a concentrated area?” Send me next door for a few days, and I probably could have wrecked his neighbor’s house, too, if it would have made him feel any better.
It’s as if I have some weird, twisted superpower that only works when I travel. If I rent a beach house, as soon as I show up, the hurricane warnings are issued. If I go skiing, there is an unusual lack of snow. If I go golfing, the lightning and thunder are sure to start. Flash floods have washed out roads I was going to take and the wind has closed bridges I planned to cross.
I’m starting to think I could make a living renting myself out to those crazy people who chase tornadoes. They wouldn’t need to race a truck down dusty dirt roads at 80 mph. They could just stand next to me, and in a couple of minutes, they’d get some spectacular, never-before-seen footage of a man summoning a funnel cloud.
Fort Lauderdale could hire me to go live in Massachusetts, diverting storms away from Florida for the rest of my life. I could sell my rainmaking services to drought-stricken states – all they’d have to do would be invite me to play golf. There’s probably good money in being a human lightning rod, but that might not be a long career.
So far, my friends and relatives haven’t caught on that I’m a walking natural disaster. They’re not connecting the dots that every time they have to call their insurance agent, I’ve been somewhere nearby.
So let me just issue this public service announcement: Before you invite me to come visit, ask yourself these questions: Do I have a generator? Do I have an escape plan? Do I have an inflatable boat? Is the house earthquake-proof? Do I have a safe room?
Do I have a bomb shelter?
• Jim Mullen is a syndicated columnist. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.