As Tornadoes Ripped Through Lancaster, One Adult Store Stayed Strong.
As you know, a rash of tornadoes hit the Dallas area last week — some 16, last we heard. There was damage in several parts of the city, but one of hardest hit areas was Lancaster, the suburb located just to the south of the city.
It was an ugly scene. And a busy one, too: Nuzzled between I-35, I-20, I-45 and the Belt Line, Lancaster is a popular stop for the many truckers driving long routes through Texas. If you've ever driven down I-20, you've probably noticed the many truck stops, truck repair shops and rest areas layered between Houston School Road and Lancaster Road.
And if you've driven down that same stretch within the past three months, you may have noticed a little something else. Three months ago, an adult video store opened near Bonnie View Road.
From the outside, it's nothing special — just a plain, largely unmarked metal building with some large yellow signs advertising its content. Yet for all three of those months, you could spot several people picketing out by the service road, many armed with signs talking about church and the Lord and the evilness of pornography.
I just so happened to be driving that stretch of highway a few hours after the tornadoes hit last week. Traffic started to build up about a half mile from Bonnie View Road. As I sat there, waiting to be the next rubbernecked passerby, my imagination went wild. From what I'd seen on the news, the whole area — the area right where that X-rated video store stands — had been severely damaged.
In my mind, I had already decided what happened: The tornado had swept through the area, almost as if it had a vengeance for the happenings in that building — as if everything else that was damaged was merely just catching some of the wrath intended for that one business. I imagined the fragile metal building to be twisted and torn — so much that it would become unrecognizable. And the debris? Well, of course it would consist of a ton of viciously mutilated pornography videos and magazines.
As I got closer, I really thought my ideas were soon to be validated. I could see a mangled 18-wheeler wrapped in the metal fence that runs along side of the X-rated video store's property.
But then, as I approached, I saw the building.
Like a beacon in the night, the X-rated video store stood alone, unscratched, untouched by the chaos and destruction that surrounded it.
That building, which literally consists simply of four metal walls and a metal roof, had not one single scratch on it. The large yellow signs that read “Late Night Video” and “Adult” were still firmly attached. And all of the building's the lights were still shining bright. It looked perfectly fine, even as the damage all around the building mounted.
You couldn't even get near that area for a few days. There were so many uprooted trees, downed power lines and randomly placed 18-wheeler parts.
Days later, once the damage was cleared, I made my curious approach to the sex shop. Just a few feet from the back door sat an uprooted tree with part of an 18-wheeler wrapped around the trunk. There was only one car in the parking lot of the video store — an unmarked white minivan, fittingly enough.
I ventured inside to see if my assumptions from the outside looking in were true — that the store really had been completely undamaged as the neighborhood around it suffered. Inside, the lone employee working the store confirmed my suspicions.
He was a dude of few words, to say the least, and clearly not as entertained by the irony of this story as I was.
When asked what he thought about the fact that lots of people obviously wished his store didn't exist, coupled with the fact that his was the lone spot in the area to escape Mother Nature's wrath, he simply shrugged his shoulders.
“I don't know,” he said, shuffling through some X-rated pictures he was sorting to put on display.
He did offer this much, though: There were two customers in the store as the tornado approached, but they left right before it hit — perhaps fearing that, if the tornado struck the store, their private desires would be put on display for the world to see on the local news.
Far as the store employee knew, his customers made it home alright.
Had they stayed, however, they might have been even safer.
He was OK.