My Three-Strike Rule – The One Time I Broke It

I have a three-strike rule.

Regardless of how I initially feel about something, I’ll do it – going somewhere, seeing someone, whatever.  Within reason, of course, but I’ll make an effort.  The three-strike rule goes like this – whenever obstacles pop up, making it difficult to do said task, I’ll move past it and keep trying.  I will go so far as to ignore the second obstacle that tells me “Do not pass go, do not collect $200,” and keep going, but I usually draw the line at the third obstacle when I will take notice and throw in the towel.  I’m just persistent that way.

I know that before any decision, large or small, I really should listen to my intuition to see if what I am about to do is the right choice, but I don’t, so thus the reason for the three-strike rule.  Some sort of a compromise between my impetuous and conservative natures.

But one year I didn’t heed the signs and just burst through them, guns a-blazing.  Why?  Because I thought what my family and I were about to do was so damn cool, so renegade, so free.

Well, that one year I spent pushing the envelope, was a year I’ll never forget.  About nine years ago, I was bored and needed a change.  Fortunately, the ex and I were on the same wavelength and, being that I could work on the road via satellite internet (we had bought a mobile one), there was nothing to stop us.  So we sold almost everything we owned, put some stuff in storage, bought a 34-foot motorhome, and headed across the country.

We started out in March, I think it was, and mapped out a route going south from Central California down towards Arizona. It was our intention to stay south and make our way up to Indiana in time to see the Indy 500 (my ex’s big dream).  Everything was going fine until we were in Huachuca City, Arizona, and it started to snow.  We were headed towards Albuquerque, New Mexico when the weather channel reported tornado warnings popping up everywhere.

Let’s mark that as sign #1.

So we turned back around, warmed up in Palm Springs for a couple of days, then headed towards the northern route, thinking we might have a better shot at missing one of those tornadoes.  But, as it turned out, they chased us.

Halfway across a seriously long stretch of lonely highway in Wyoming, where the wind howled like a banshee, our awning let loose and damn near turned into a parachute.  Trying to get it back under control in a hurricane-like wind was really hard.

A smaller sign, so we’ll mark that as sign #1A.

In South Dakota,  in the middle of the night, I remember staring out the window of the motorhome in total disbelief at a lightning storm – not one of those storms when the sky lights up every few minutes or so.  No.  In this little display, the sky lit up nonstop.  Literally nonstop.  The rain was coming down so hard, I had to yell at my ex to be heard.  NOAA radio tracked a tornado 30 miles away, headed in our direction.  The crazy part was that no one in the RV park was freaking out. The office was closed and there was nobody to ask what to do.  For a girl who grew up in Southern California, this was incomprehensible.  I was looking for some underground shelter, but none existed.  Anywhere.   All I could do at the time was hope that the storm would fade away before the tornado got too close.

I raised my cup of tea (with a shot of brandy in it) to sign #2.

There continued to be storm after storm, and we continued to look over our shoulders, storm after storm.  This entire time I was working full time via the satellite, homeschooling the boys, and with the added lessons in the force of Mother Nature, my nerves were being stepped on.

Another shaker-upper happened somewhere between South Dakota and Indiana, on a really busy freeway, going freeway speed, when we came way too close to demolishing a truck that was at a standstill in one of the lanes.  No hazard lights, no flares, no nothing.  Do you have any idea how hard it is to stop a 20,000-pound vehicle going 70 miles an hour?  It’s possible, with a little bit of time, but we had none.  Fortunately, the shoulder was clear and my ex was able to steer around the truck before swerving back onto the freeway.  Can you imagine what that looked like?  I’m thinking that wouldn’t have been a happy ending for anybody if the shoulder hadn’t been clear.

My heart hammered at sign #3.

By then, my nerves were crushed.  But, damn it.  Stuff like this happens all the time, doesn’t it?  So with our blinders firmly strapped on, we forged ahead.

Finally, we  made it to the Indy 500.  My ex went by himself and left me and the boys at the RV park.  It didn’t take long for the weather to turn sour.  Then…guess what…sirens.  Loud sirens.  And I’m not talking police or fire truck sirens.  They were sirens of the natural disaster type.  Tornado type.  I got out of the motorhome, looked at everyone running around, and said in my calmest voice to the nearest woman dashing by, “Where are we supposed to go?”  Her reply in her most frantic voice was, “To the lower bathrooms!”

The bathrooms?  Was she kidding?  The bathrooms?  Hiding from a possible tornado with winds up to 100+ miles an hour in a bathroom?  Seeing no other option, I did whatever any good woman would do…I called the ex and told him he’d better come back, I grabbed the boys and their bike helmets, and headed for the bathrooms, which, to my untrained eye, were pathetically inadequate.

The women and children sat in the bathroom and waited, listening to portable radios for news of disaster, while the men, macho as they were, stood outside the bathroom door, arms crossed over their chests, like some sort of sentry, looking at the sky.  Not terribly comforting.  I felt better under the sinks with my arms wrapped around the boys and my arm linked through the plumbing.

Let’s label that as sign #4, shall we?

As it turned out, a tornado had touched down three miles from where we were.  Too close.  Hell, any tornado touching down in the same state was too close.  But did we heed that sign?  No….

We continued east, determined to make it to the coast and head south to Florida.  Still the storms chased us.  NOAA was our constant friend.  I was beginning to find it a little difficult to enjoy the scenery when I was always looking to the sky.  We stayed at a couple of RV parks where tornadoes had dropped down not two days before we arrived. Sign, sign, sign.   By the time we made it to Niagara Falls in New York, I was done.  I wasn’t quite up to pressing our luck by heading east any more.  Besides, by turning around, we were going to be headed straight into the very same storms that chased us.  Kind of a buzz-kill.

We made it back in one piece to California, a little wiser, a little traveled, a little in debt, with memories wonderful and not so wonderful.  It was fun for the most part, but in all honesty, I think I would have been better off listening to that little nagging voice in my head that kept telling me to turn us around.  The stress made me a little bitchy, a little closed off, and a whole lot paranoid for months afterward whenever clouds rolled in.  Tornadoes, to me, are too unpredictable and as crazy as it sounds, I’d take a California earthquake over a tornado any day.

P.S.  At one point the Indy 500 was postponed because a tornado had touched down not too far from the track.  Sign.  And all of the tornadoes?  It was reported to be the worst tornado season on record – Typically 500-600 tornadoes in the season, this one had 500 in the month of May alone.  Just my luck.

So, do you listen to that “inner voice?”  Do you have a three-strike rule?  Where do you draw the line?

About Diana Murdock

California-grown, writer of contemporary and YA paranormal with enough energy to write, raise two boys, run, and dream.

Posted on November 2, 2011, in Family, Personal, Travel, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 25 Comments.

  1. Okay, you’ve just dampened my thought of retiring to a RV. lol. I hate tornadoes b/c I’ve grown up with them and know how much damage, with so little warning, they cause.

    I don’t have a three-strike rule, but am rarely impetuous either. lol. My inner voice says something like, “Now, that wouldn’t be prudent. Let’s wait another day. . .month. . . year. . . ” Which is why I enjoy reading so much. Living out adventures from the safety of my chair.

  2. Whoa, I’m so with you on that earthquake vs. tornado thing. I lived in South Dakota for a spell when I was 16 and only once we had to go into the cellar and it freaked me out. I went home a week later. Not because of that, but it certainly didn’t help with me wanting to stay!

    The times I’ve ignored my inner voice I’ve regretted it. Now, I pay it heed and stop what I’m doing to actually listen to my fears. If they are a little silly (if I go on Space Mountain, the ride will fly off the tracks and I’ll be thrown through the wall), then I might quiet the inner voice. I’m a terrible judge of people and I wish my inner voice would step up and warn me when people are jerks. Not let me wait to find out after I’ve invested time in them.

    I never really thought about retiring in an RV, but certainly now that is out of the question. ; )

  3. Ah – there is something to be said for living in a part of the world that rarely has anything that remotely resembles a natural disaster. A cold winter … piece of cake … especially after reading your post. I can’t imagine living where tornadoes, floods, or earthquakes threaten at any given time and always feel such sympathy for those affected. Not everyone is able to choose where they live. You’ve provided another one of those “count your blessings” moments, Diana!

  4. I do have a three strike rule, but it mainly applies to people. Hurt me once, I might come back for more. Hurt me twice, I start wondering if you’re worth it. Hurt me three times, we’re done. No trial, no discussion, we are done.

    Sometimes I ignore my gut because I am, deep down, a chicken. I will do anything to avoid unpleasantness. This is one thing that has kept me from submitting my finished manuscript very much. Rejection is unpleasant.

    Sometime, though, I do go with my gut. Sometimes I am so glad I did. Other times, I am shaking my head wondering how my gut got so stupid. LOL

  5. I have learned, through hard lessons and good friends as teachers, to always, Always, ALWAYS listen to my intuition. ALWAYS. The few times I didn’t were absolutely disastrous.

  6. I grew up on the prairies, and I share your fear of tornadoes. Ironically, we were camping last year when a tornado was reported about five miles away – and we didn’t even know it. There was a bit of wind and a few drops of rain. Go figure.

    I don’t have a three-strike rule, but I think I should adopt it. I make the best decision based on what I know at the time, and then I stick with it. Sounds good when you say it, but a three-strike rule could have saved me 13 years in a miserable relationship and 12 years in a totally wrong career choice. Guess some of us are just slow learners. 🙂

  7. I grew up in Huntington Beach, CA and had a similar earthquake vs. tornado discussion with a person from Oklahoma. Earthquake any day! Now, I’ve added volcanoes to the mix. Yay!

  8. Holy God that’s INSANE! I can’t believe you kept pushing forward. Hubby and I have a very strong wrong, if it stresses us out, we cut it out…period! I have been known to cancel plans and reorganize my life to avoid or cancel something stressful. Not cool. Life is too short.
    What an adventure. You guys are brave and glad you manage to sneak a few wonderful memories in there. LOL!
    Love your three-strike rule – I am down with that!

  9. oh wow. Ok. I experienced earthquakes, so I’d pick them over tornadoes just because i’m clueless about tornadoes. I was clueless about hurricanes too until Irene hit NY. I’m basically clueless about any type of natural event involving too much water or too much wind. Not something that we have in Europe. I guess another good reason why we love American movies involving all that kind of stuff. I’ve always lived in NYC, never been to the Midwest. I’m totally virgin to all of that. lol

    About the three strike rule, um. I’d say that with people, I give several shots until I’m done – with my ex, I must have given 100 million. Now I only give about 10. Which is pretty good according to my standards because I’m a super believer in giving ppl second chances. With everything else – natural events, parties, subway rides, car rides, trips w friends – I give only one shot. If I don’t like it, or if I feel uncomfortable, I go away and take a different route. No discussion. I remember my ex going crazy at me because I’d leave parties I felt terrible at after 5 min. The only place I can’t leave is an airplane. There I’m stuck. But everything else, I just bail. If I had been in your case with the RV and the tornadoes, I wouldn’t even have lasted 100 miles. Nope. I just go.

    I prob shd do that w ppl too, or give them only 3 chances instead of 10. 10 is still too much.

  10. The only tornados I’ve seen are on television–thank the Lord! For all the chaos you weathered from the storms, I’m glad for the happy safe ending!

    I try to pray and wait before I set out on adventures. I’ve learned that the safest place in the whole wide world is in the will of God.

  11. See, I live in Tornado Alley. Grew up here. So I’m just at the point of being among the people outside watching the sky when the sirens have gone off, to see if it looks like we actually need to go to the shelter. Tornadoes haven’t scared me since I was little, so I’d pick tornadoes over earthquakes any day. Tornadoes weave a path of destruction, true, but the earthquake pretty much takes the whole area down at once. I’ve had a tornado come right through our neighborhood, but oddly enough that’s the one that made me stop being so afraid of them.

  12. Having lived through tornadoes, hurricanes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, and earthquakes…I’ll opt for an earthquake any day. They barely even count until they approach a 6 on the Richter scale.

    I spent the summers of my early childhood sleeping in midwestern basements because of tornadoes. There is nothing like the roar of whirling energy cycling overhead and then the complete cessation of sound before the world shatters. H.A.T.E. T.H.E.M.

    I’ve learned to listen to the inner voice. She’s smarter than me and I know it. Sometimes life requires risk, but multiple warnings and internal alarms make me re-evaluate. I want to be around a long time from now so I pay attention as much as possible.

  13. I’m rarely impetuous but I do enjoy a good adventure. I love the idea of a three strike rule! I’m not sure when I decide to stop fighting the obstacles that appear in my path.

    My inner voice speaks loudest when I’m in the path of people who continue to hurt me or hurt people I love. I don’t stick around or put up with it for long.

  14. It’s a great tale about Life Happens. At times – we face forces we cannot avoid. In the end – we face them, deal with them, bandage the wounds, dust ourselves off and move forward. Easier said then done, true — but the result is the same: we face another day and we look forward to what the day brings.

  15. I knew some of this story but not all the details. WOW!!!! Yeah, it’s usually a very good idea to listen to that inner voice. Like the three-strike rule.

  16. Wow, Diana. you got it from all sides on that trip. I think our warning system has weakened as we progress into a more ‘civilized’ society but it’s still there.

    I usually don’t listen to mine until too late, except when sailing. Something about sailing that lets you know errors in judgment can be deadly.
    Great post.

  17. I think you do what I have done for many years, you make life far too dramatic. Small things become big things. Have you ever met someone that takes life as it comes? I am not one of those people, but I am working on it. Life is so damn short, don’t over think it. I must say, I over think every breath I take, enough Russell, just breath.

  18. Meditation may be a key to some peace, I have tried, can’t quite get there yet.

  19. That was a trip from hell, sista! Wow, I’m glad I wasn’t there.
    The only tornado that I have ever been near was last June in Orlando. We were watching something on TV with the kids in our hotel room when the program was interrupted, and a tornado alert was issued. A week or so earlier I just finished an intensive research on various natural disasters for my novel and I knew way too much about tornados without ever experiencing one. I was really scared and wished to be back in Seattle, where tornados never happen. Well, we have earthquakes and I’ve been in a few but I will take them over a tornado or a hurricane in a heartbeat. Unless it’s a really big one.

  20. I completely agree, I will take an earthquake over a tornado any day! I also have a 3 strikes rule. But like Catie, it mainly applies to people. I might give an experience even less if it is really bad. 🙂 I do have a nagging inner voice and I try to listen to it. I have found it wise to do so.

    Love the post Diana. I can’t even imagine having that experience.

  21. Sweetie,

    I’m so hard-headed, I can’t even tell me what to do!!
    Love the story!

  22. Great story, Diana. Glad no actual disaster to report! What a woman!

  23. Wow. Just… wow. I’m also a California girl, and the only thing I know about tornadoes comes from marathons of “Storm Chasers” on the Discovery Channel… and yeah, I don’t envy you this experience at all.

    I have a three-strike rule when it comes to people, as Catie mentioned above. I don’t always follow it, sadly, and it always gets me into trouble. One of my goals for the future has been to listen more deeply to my intuition, and to trust that my gut reacts in certain ways for a reason.

    Amazing story, Diana!

  24. Hi, Diana.
    Wow! What a story! I’m with you; earthquakes aren’t so bad!
    I don’t know that I have a three-strikes rule. Something to think about…


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