Friday, April 1, 2011

Worst April Fool's Day Joke Ever

Alternative title: Why My Family Hates April Fool's Day, Especially My Poor Mother

Alright, so I was born in 1979.  March 31, 1979.  (Don't bother doing the math.  I turned 32 yesterday.  And damn proud of it.)  If any of you were alive and old enough to care about the news, you may remember that 1979 is the year that the Three Mile Island nuclear plant in Middletown, PA had a near-catastrophic problem.  The reactors nearly melted down, which would have caused a hydrogen bubble to burst and would have caused radioactive material to be thrown into the air which woudl have caused everyone living near the plant to die*.  ANYway.  The problem started on March 28 and escalated quickly.  By the evening of March 30, residents of the area were trying to decide whether or not to evacuate.  Read here if you want to see the whole timeline of the event.

My parents were some of these residents.  My mom had already contacted a family member in Pittsburgh to see if they could come out there; Aunt Becky had spoken to her OB and he was willing to deliver my mom's baby (me) if necessary.  In the meantime, back in Central PA, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission had warned pregnant women to stay indoors.  But my mom was past her due date (see?  I was late from birth) and knew that probably sometime in the next few days, she'd have to leave the house.  She called her doctor and told him of her plan to go to Pittsburgh.  He told her, "If you try to leave now, I guarantee you, you will have your baby on the Turnpike.  Stay put."  So she and my dad packed a suitcase and decided, like thousands of others, to wait for Governor Thornberg's press conference and then hit the road if he said conditions looked bad.  He was supposed to come on at 8pm, but didn't.  By 10pm, he still hadn't come on, and my mom started having contractions.  They went to the hospital and I arrived at 5:11am on March 31.  That day, the size of the hydrogen bubble had decreased and the NRC felt that there was no imminent danger of a meltdown.  Everyone breathed a sigh of relief.

Then, April 1.  April Fool's Day.  A nurse walks into my mom's room, looking all panicked, and says "The hydrogen bubble doubled in size overnight.  Everyone is leaving.  The doctors are leaving!" and ran out of the room.  So there is my poor mother, 26 years old, with a 24-hour old newborn, being told that everyone was evacuating the area and that TMI was going to kill everyone.*  A few minutes later, the nurse comes in and says "April Fools!  Everything is fine!" 

Worst. Joke. Ever.  If I were my mom, I would have had that nurse fired.  But it's a well-known fact that my mom is a better person than I am.  So she just let it go. 

And that, my friends, is why April Fool's Day is not a popular holiday in my family. 

*This might be an exaggeration.  I was not exactly paying attention to detail.

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