Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Danger There's a Breakdown Dead Ahead

Active Shooter Chicken Salad 
I was applying mascara when I popped out of my morning fog to realize sirens were whizzing by every minute outside my window.  Even though there is always morning commotion, the energy felt elevated.  In a rare occasion, I put on the local news to investigate and see Active Shooter in Brooklyn scrolling across the screen.  Soon my sister was texting me if I was okay and it became clear we were in another emergency.  I would imagine people in cities across the US have a bit of this but I have to believe New Yorker's carry the brunt of crisis anxiety.  The What now feel.  It's a mix of odd excitement coupled with deep fear.  Nerves set in and as someone with a great imagination, I begin filling rooms inside my head with bad scenarios.  It happened during the morning commute.  A man allegedly walked onto a subway car with a gas mask and pulled out some smoke bombs or something and then began shooting.  It was unclear at that moment if this was terrorism, another random act of violence or how many people were involved. I needed to get to work in the rain but there was no way I was taking the train.   Soon I was on my bike heading to work, but reluctantly.  Passing the main subway hub by my apartment, the Atlantic terminal, I saw hundreds of people pouring out of the stations and onto the streets. Busses were double-parked in rows.  Had something more occurred?  Did they stop all lines? People looked confused but more pissed than panicked.   I thought to stop but instead passed the scene in slow motion as if it was a car wreck

Emotions began overtaking my thoughts.  I rode slowly and listened to the rain pouring on my coat and gear, trying to focus on what I should do next if this indeed had become bigger.   I stopped and called P to see if he was aware of any issues.  I got a text from my coworker who warned the store would not open, there was an 'incident', that I should turn back.  It didn't make sense and I was minutes away, so I made my way to the waterfront.  Seven fire trucks and 3 ambulances were parked in front of the retailer. This felt shocking, like in movies when the teen comes driving up to find her family home on fire.  People are in front, some customers, coworkers, everyone looked frantic.  I was cautious to go further but decided to park and hear the explanation managers were shouting to the small crowd.  The police were there because there was an active shooter in the neighborhood and they had reason to believe he may target our local business as the shooting took place so close, they said.  So close?  It was 30 blocks away to Sunset Park.  I questioned why the ambulances were there.  The answers were vague and didn't make sense.  The manager said, no one can go beyond the 2nd floor but refused to elaborate, so I got the hell out of there.  One thing I've learned with city disasters is to trust your instinct.  People in charge often make poor decisions.  This girl was in charge of putting up displays.  I couldn't leave fast enough.  

I texted my coworker when I was safely out of the parking lot, who allegedly was sequestered to the staff cafeteria inside.  He told me they were not allowing him to leave and heard there was a suspicious package, something about white powder but he also heard someone possibly had a weapon, or came in with injuries,  that he saw men with hazmat suits putting items in bags. It was very unclear what was going on.  Regardless, the morning was quickly becoming dreamlike.  Down the block nannies with strollers approached looking to do morning shopping, asked me if the store would open.  I told them I would leave the area, it may not be safe and then realized that was good advice, so I also left.  

This brought on a little latent PTSD so I stopped by to see my husband at work and he eased my mind.  Nothing further had happened, but we did get a couple of phone alerts that tend to skyrocket the nerves.  An active shooter is on the loose, avoid this area, stay inside.  I rode home on what otherwise must have been the most gorgeous of mornings because whilst all this was happening, the clouds parted and we had full sun like a summer's day.   I was advised to stay away from the news but could not resist.  I was quick to shut it down though after the replaying of the aftermath footage seemed to be on an endless loop.  Coming off one of these tragedies feels like the air slowly being let out of a balloon.  It was becoming more apparent it wasn't going to escalate into multiple events.  That's a relief. The shooter may have been homeless or deranged and was only one man.  Okay, that's not great but somehow easier to take.  I got the day off! My store remained a mystery, even though a memo was sent the following day stating almost nothing other than an incident coincidentally happened at the same time, now believed to be unrelated to the shooting and our safety is of the utmost importance, yada yada.  
In cases like these, a light salad is advised.  Lots of greens, a little protein, nothing heavy.  Immediately followed by self pacifying tricks like drinking calming tea, putting on a funny movie, or quiet time.  Even speaking the words in your head, 'you are okay, your loved ones are okay, nothing is wrong at this moment' can be essential to coming back down to the ground.  

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