April 21, 2013

Tragedy, Magnificence Experienced From a Distance

I've never mentioned it here but I was born in Massachusetts and lived there until I was eleven.

After travelling in many states and living in Wisconsin for 40 years I didn't usually mention New England unless I got to know someone fairly well and we were sharing life histories.

This past week, though, showed me that you never lose the bond with your childhood home. I'm a rabid fan of Reddit and my all-day TV channel is ESPN. I was browsing Reddit and had ESPN on in the background when the story about the bombing broke. Noticing quickly that a) reddit was way ahead of any news site and b) ESPN did an amazing job with their coverage, I stayed where I was.

I was pretty emotional but I was very pleased I had no immediate urge to hit the junk foods that used to be my kneejerk response to stress. My lifeline was something I discovered the next afternoon/evening, Reddit Real-Time. It was a group of people chatting online while gathering/sharing information, and one of the things shared was that you could listen to police scanners via the web. I am highly curious--that's actually an understatement--so of course I connected and  was listening with great interest to routine communications. 

I don't think I'd been listening 30 minutes yet when an officer reported a high-speed vehice had almost hit him head-on. Suddenly I found myself listening to a high-speed chase and then, the man who'd narrated events to that point reported guns fired and explosives. He was directing the officers on scene and said over the radio he was joining the fight--you could hear a mixture of danger-awareness and courage in his voice. 

Very soon, as the command post was asking for an update, a different and flustered voice came on and reported "officers down." Oh, man. The new voice gathered itself and did an admirable job of pulling communications back together but I was burning to know what had happened to the first guy (a sergeant I think.) I was relieved to hear later that there were police injuries but, unlike the MIT officer, there were no law enforcement fatalities at this scene.

After that hair-raising experience, I spent the rest of the evening with the TV on but muted, following the Reddit Real Time chat and listening to the scanner. Instead of listening to talking heads speculate, I was hearing about events directly on the scanner and following the chat. 

Last night I followed the same muted TV, Reddit chat and scanner routine and I was fascinated. Over and over, there were leads that came up empty so it was a surprise when an officer calmly reported they had the suspect located and under surveillance.

Again, I was profoundly impressed with the careful attention to detail the law enforcement group displayed in preparing and executing a plan to safely arrest the suspect.

I'm not sure of the timing any more, but somewhere in there I was also exposed to the devastation in Texas. Just as happened in Boston, heroes put their lives on the line to save others but in Texas a number of the heroes were killed. 

Finally, this morning I choked up repeatedly during the Red Sox pre-game ceremony honoring heroes, volunteers, law enforcement and those injured at the marathon. It was my catharsis and I was able to release much of the emotion I'd retained during the crises.

This week brought the flaws and magnificence of humans into sharp focus for me in a way that hadn't happened since 9/11. On that awful day, I hit the junk food hard but this time I found my comfort in the online community and that's a very good thing.

Now I'd be really pleased to write a post about how bored I am because nothing's happening. If we could please arrange that, that would be great.

No comments:

Post a Comment