A Funny Thing Happened on The Way to The Tsunami…

Jamie Reidy recalls being on Hawaii last year when the tsunami hit.

This post is in no way intended to make light of the disaster, death and destruction inflicted on Japan one year ago. Instead, I’m hoping to share a bit of family humor that occurred shortly after learning of the threat.

They say stressful situations reveal a man’s true character. I wholeheartedly agree.

One year ago yesterday, I arrived with my parents and then-girlfriend on the Big Island for a short vacation. I’d never brought a young lady on a family trip before, so I was more than a little nervous. My anxiety stemmed entirely from my father’s potential to frighten away Jenn.

We’d enjoyed sunset drinks by the water, followed by a nice dinner during which Dad didn’t insult the waiter or spill on himself. The four of us strolled back to our two-bedroom condo for some ice cream. (Note: I belong to the Hilton Grand Vacation Club, a terrific timeshare with only one flaw: in order to successfully timeshare, one must be a “planner,” which I am not, which means nearly every year I nearly lose all my points which once again went used.)

God forbid my old man go to bed without a Fox News fix, so we flipped on the living room TV. Imagine the surreality of being on Hawaii and watching footage of a killer wave headed to…Hawaii. Since I was the guy who basically forced my folks to make their maiden trip to the Aloha state, I felt kinda bad.

As Mom scooped us ice cream, I tried to get online to follow the live feed of the tsunami’s progress. But the internet connection kept failing. Temporarily rebuffed, I returned to my mint chocolate chip and television coverage. Jenn questioned my priorities and sanity. I pointed to my bowl with a shrug. “The wave is seven hours away. But my ice cream is melting now.” Not as fast, apparently, as her respect for me.

We quickly learned from the timeshare staff that we were located in the Waikola tsunami evacuation spot, meaning we were exactly where we wanted to be.

Still, nerves jangled. Jenn smartly suggested hitting the ATM, since a massive power outage would render credit cards useless. We filled our large bathtub with water. I put our suitcases in the rental SUV, in case we needed to head to higher ground quickly.

Much to Jenn’s amusement, we learned that I cannot correctly pronounce “Tsunami.” Several times, I said, “Soo-nahm-uh-nee.” On an unrelated note, I often say “Thanksgiving” when I mean “Valentine’s Day.”

Non-plussed by the destruction on screen, my parents went to bed.  Jenn and I remained glued to the television. Referencing a dinner conversation concerning sleep medications, she turned to me and said, “You know, your father shouldn’t take an Ambien tonight. We might have to evacuate.”

“Dad?!” I yelled toward my folks’ bedroom.


“Jenn just had a great idea: don’t take an Ambien because we might have to evacuate.”

Long pause. “I wish you’d told me that twenty minutes ago!”

One of my cervical discs nearly slipped from just thinking about trying to Fireman’s Carry my unconscious 200-pound old man out of the condo.

I volunteered to stay up all night, keeping watch of the news coverage in case we really did have to hightail it. Dubious of my ability to remain awake, Jenn handed me another Diet Coke and went to bed.

Now back online, I decided to finally joinTwitter. Surprisingly, I didn’t get much reaction to my Tweet of “How much do you tip a bellhop for an ‘evacuation’?”

A few hours later, I overheard Mom and Jenn – the two most important women in my life – scoffing at me as I rested my eyes for a mere instant on the couch. (Note to self: Next time you’re in a life-or-death situation, do not lie down.) I didn’t need an alert from my respect bank to know my account had been overdrawn.

Never let it be said that Reidy men overreact in the face of danger. Quite the opposite; we eat ice cream and then fall asleep.

Courage under fire, baby!


Photo by: epugachev

About Jamie Reidy

Jamie Reidy is a former U.S. Army officer turned little blue pill pusher turned author. His first book "Hard Sell: The Evolution of A Viagra Salesman"
served as the basis for the movie "Love and Other Drugs" starring Jake Gyllenhaal. Jamie is currently writing his new book, "Game On: One Fanatic's Fantastic, Foolish and Futile Attempt to Attend 365 Sporting Events in 365 Days." He discovered his latest story featured on Good Men Project - "Hope Shoots and Scores" - on Day 39 of his crazy journey.


  1. Jamie Reidy says:

    I’m sorry, Annie, but I don’t understand your question.

  2. how did it start the tsunami when u started to call some one I want to know.please post back.

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