Please imagine, for a brief moment, that you live in New Jersey.
You receive a text and it tells you that, in an hour's time, there mightn't be so much of New Jersey.
Would you be frightened? Would you be secretly relieved because, well, there are parts of New Jersey that give the word "New" a bad rap. Or would you merely think that someone at Verizon has imbibed a little early spiked eggnog?
I ask because yesterday quite a few people in the Garden State received a Verizon text message telling them to "take shelter before 1:24 p.m."
This, as CBS New York reports, was sent at 12:26 p.m. Which gave Jerseyites less than an hour to collect their favorite high heels and wall posters and head for the hills of Pennsylvania.
How could they not take this text message seriously? It was headlined "Extreme Alert." It said there was a "civil emergency" in the area.
There are those who have felt that there has been a civil emergency in Jersey for some time. However, Newark Mayor Cory Booker intelligently stood up for his state with a retweet the other day that read: "tweetoftheday mt @CoryBooker Reason #991 why Jersey rocks: NJ is only "New State" where u don't need the New. No one says York or Hampshire."
Anyway, you know Verizon is at the heart of this, because the company has apologized for creating a climate of fear by sending out the text. The company declared that the message should have read "test message."
But, of course. It's just that instead of "test message," it included the words: "Take shelter now U.S. Govern.(sic)."
It also included the wording: "Certainty: Observed (Determined to have occurred or to be ongoing)."
Verizon stuck to bland phraseology in its apology: "We apologize for any inconvenience or concern this message may have caused."
The local police did tell CBS that 911 enjoyed a remarkably active engagement around 12.27pm yesterday. Still, the general impression seems to be that many residents of the four affected New Jersey counties--Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, and Ocean--went about their business, perhaps in the belief that Verizon's text must be part of some reality show.
I have a feeling that the reason there wasn't greater panic was that neither the Situation, nor Zach Braff, nor a Real Housewife had tweeted out a warning of an alien invasion of Jersey after seeing the text.
If they had, there would have been greater pandemonium. If they had, Verizon might have a lot more apologizing to do.