It’s a Mad Max world and on Wednesday, to drive through Lawton during the day’s power outage had one quoting, and many, behind the wheel like a War Boy, uttering the famous line: “Return my treasures to me, and I, myself, will carry you through the gates of Valhalla. You shall ride eternal. Shiny, and chrome!”
In the movies it makes for exciting action on the silver screen. Cars and motorcycles jockeying for space on the open road. Close calls and the occasional sideswipe and all that. That’s the movies.
But when the majority of the city stop lights were out, real lives were taken into fate’s hands behind the steering wheels. It’s a crazy feeling to see how quickly civilization devolves when people are tasked with remembering the rules to maneuvering a four-way stop. Each intersection becomes a center to “will they or won’t they” when another vehicle creeps forward out of turn.
With businesses and schools shut down, already full cross-city arterials were slow surging with traffic backed up far more than usual on West Gore Boulevard and Cache Road.
Racing to a photo assignment near Cameron University only to find power out and the assignment in need of rescheduling, the reporter sought a working a gas pump. Every convenience store from south to mid to, eventually, north Lawton was greeted by clerks bearing bad news: “No power.”
In attempt to leave the pump area from one, a family in a car raced within inches of the reporter’s ride while turning into the exit onto West Gore Boulevard. Blood pressure races, even when the vehicle doesn’t.
With a gas tank dwindling rapidly, the journey through residential neighborhoods to Cache Road was only marginally less congested and treacherous than the major roadways. The tour would make way east on Cache Road and then north onto North Sheridan Road before arriving to a Stripes Convenience Store at 2108 N. Sheridan where the lights were on and the pumps were working.
With the gas tank topped and a soda to stimulate the senses for the return to the road, it took darting moves to maneuver back to the destination on the west side where there was a pocket of electricity, wifi and, most importantly, air conditioning. Home base for the afternoon would be as mesmerizing as the Emerald City for road weary eyes. It had been the longest 10 miles of travel ever.
It wouldn’t be long before it was time to put on the shoulder pads, crop the hair into a mohawk and add a stripe of war paint before reentering the fray to journey home to find out if power would be restored by nightfall or if it would be time to run the “gates of Valhalla” again.