By Joe Rector
Well, thousands of folks prepared for the upcoming eclipse by purchasing protective glasses that allow them to look at the event without fear of damage to eyes. Then, Amazon sends out an email to tell them that the glasses that they bought are fake and not compliant with standards for protection. Now, either it’s too late to get new pairs or the ones available cost more than a small fortune.
Businesses and schools are closing their doors to accommodate people who wish to share the big event with their families and friends. Cities are planning activities throughout the day. The predictions are that thousands, perhaps even millions, are hitting the highways to find perfect viewing places for the eclipse. Some motel rooms have been reserved for years; the few that are left are going for as much as $800 per night. People in neighboring counties are renting houses for thousands or RV spaces in their yards for $200. As someone said recently, “This reminds me of the expected flood of people who were going to descend on Knoxville during the ’82 World’s Fair.”
Amy and I thought about traveling to Gallatin for a better look at the eclipse for about a second and a half. We, too, bought eclipse glasses several weeks ago, and yes, we received the Amazon email warning about them. Reports that as many as 100,000 visitors would invade the town kept us from doing so. The Interstates will be packed, and the smallest fender bender will cause gridlock and leave folks fuming and sitting in their cars as the sun and moon cross paths. Amy has a doctor’s appointment in Lenoir City in the morning, so we are leaving early and hoping that we can get back home before traffic snarls.
We’ve made the decision to stay home during the eclipse. My plan is to sit by the pool for the day. I’ll experience the eclipse by floating in the water as the darkness comes, or I might watch it on television since I don’t have safe eye protection and have no intentions of making milk carton viewers. Yes, I’m a spoilsport, but the fact is that I’m not good in heavy traffic. My road rage is too likely to rear its ugly head to the point that I curse someone who cuts me off or drives like a moron. Besides, the way the weather has gone the last few weeks, it would be my luck to fight my way to a better viewing place only to have clouds and rain sweep in and obscure any view.
The next eclipse that will pass close to Tennessee occurs in May 2078. It’s a sure bet that I won’t be around for it since that year would put me well over 100 years of age. Still, I’m not interested in spending a day trapped in crowds of people. Besides, let’s be honest; the eclipse lasts about two minutes, give or take a few seconds. When the next one occurs, maybe I can look down from heaven at the event without worrying about my eyesight or traffic jams. Alternatively, I might look up from another place that will make the solar eclipse look pale. Regardless, I’m going to forego this eyewitness opportunity.