Monday, July 20, 2015

I like a crisis - if it's small

Why I think that a small crisis can have some great side effects 
It was a normal Tuesday, and nothing told us that something extraordinary would happen. But at a quarter past eight in the evening, my best friend called.

“Hi,” I said, all chirpy and happy, “how are you?”

“I'm really not well at all.” Her voice was subdued. “I have to be evacuated from my home right now. Can I come and stay the night?”

To understand the next part, I have to give you a bit of background information: I live in a town in Germany that was heavily bombed during World War II. When the town was in ashes, the debris was cleared by pulling everything away, flattening the ground, and building anew – and this was done in a hurry because thousands and thousands of people were without homes.

However, quite a few bombs fell into the ground and didn't explode. They just buried themselves deep into the earth, and if a few other bombs detonated right and left, they were never found but simply covered with rubble and dirt, and eventually, other houses.

That's why, if you're building something new in one of the bigger towns in Germany, you're apt to come across a bomb from WWII, even though the war ended seventy years ago. The bomb might be harmless – or it might not. Very few have exploded, but of course, you have to take sufficient precautions. The situation does become risky if the bomb was inadvertedly moved (by a big excavator, for example) because in that case, the first movement after seventy years might trigger a detonation.

Now my friend lives in one of the most densely populated areas in town. There's a hospital in that area, schools, and thousands of apartments.

On that Tuesday, while excavation a playground that had housed a school for the last decades, the bomb was found – and immediately, the evacuation plans were kicked off. Thirty-one thousand (!) people had to be moved for the night – it was the second biggest evacuation since the end of WWII. The deactivation of the bomb only takes a rough hour, usually less. But moving thirty-one thousand people is a different kettle of fish.

My best friend was one of them. Of course I welcomed her, and her room mate as well. We had an improptu dinner, made from whatever we found in the fridge, and had a lovely evening with loads of chatting and laughter. Besides the stuff she needed for one night, she had only brought her favorite sweater and the hard drive of her computer. You can't take much if you learn ten minutes before the evacuation that you have to leave. I could see that she was shaken and hugged her extra hard.

Thank God the bomb was deactivated without problems. The evacuation went on from eight o'clock at night until two in the morning. By three in the morning, the bomb was harmless. And the next day, everybody returned to work and life as usual.

I like these small interruptions of routine. I like to be shaken up from my every day life. I like to talk to people I've never talked to before (we Germans are not good at doing this kind of thing unless a catastrophe triggers us into it.) We can even stand at a bus stop for years with another person and never exchange a word – maybe a nod, if we're friendly! But a perturbation in the plans will make us talk – and suddenly, you feel close to the people around you. Suddenly, you have to improvise. And suddenly, you find new friends. That's the part I love about a small crisis. They liven up the routine. However, they always have to have a happy ending – just like my books!

What about you? Have you already experienced a crisis that has brought you especially good moments?

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Beate Boeker is a USA Today bestselling author with a passion for books that brim over with mischief & humor. She writes sweet sophisticated romantic fiction and mysteries, many of them set in beautiful Italy.


  1. You are much more flexible than I am! ;) I eventually calm down enough when routine is disturbed, but have to talk myself through it. Of course, I've never had to wait out a bomb deactivation. That kind of event causes all sort of other emotions.

  2. Thank you for your comment, Aileen. Yes, it's scary when it happens the first time. I've been personally touched three times by now, and now it's less scary - you simply expect everything to work out fine. And it usually does! I've never had to live through a power failure that lasts more than a few minutes. Or a hurricane. Or a tornado. Those storms are more scary, IMHO.

  3. My mother-in-law, amazing woman, was a teenager when the bombs fell and only survived by a quirk of fate. Amazing to think that some of those bombs are still around and I imagine they are unpredictable after so many years.

  4. Well, I've never heard of any of these bombs going off without being moved, so you don't feel as if you're living on top of a volcano - which is something else many people do -- or living in areas where there are regular earth quakes . . . you can pick your thrills :-).