Most of us have had the experience of listening to the radio and having the final strains of a Brahms lullaby or a Metallica serenade segue into the SQWONK! SQWONK! SQWONK! of the Emergency Broadcasting System.
We sit up a little straighter -- but not much because, after all, has there ever really been an emergency when it was used? Mostly we just wait, in varying states of impatience, for the announcer's no-nonsense voice telling us it was "only a test."
Something of that nature took place today in Anniston.
The emergency sirens (or si-REENS, as one new friend says in Alabamese) went off and the Calhoun County Emergency Management Agency conducted a simulated "chemical weapons incident" at the Anniston Army Depot. That's where workers are systematically destroying part of the U.S. stockpile of chemical weapons -- some dating back almost half a century.
If this were an actual emergency, as the announcer would say, you probably would not be reading this. That's because I haven't a clue as to what I'm supposed to do. Hold my breath and tape up the doors and windows, I think.
And tune to the emergency broadcasting frequency.
And hope they had gotten their doors and windows taped.