So, of course life's gotten busy and things have gotten away from me somewhat. Nothing serious, and I've actually been knitting (cast on the CPH, finally, and might finish before the snow hits). It was the good kind of busy that you can sometimes lose yourself in, and it was a nice sort of status quo.
Until these past few days. Forgive me if this is cryptic or disjointed, but my brain isn't functioning properly. I know this happens to people every day, and I'm very lucky to only have to deal with it rarely, but it's too horrible, and processing it is frigging with my head.
When I was 14, I hadn't much to worry about. I got good grades, had a small but loyal group of friends, and life was pretty good. In the spring, we were looking forward for the weather to get nice enough to be able to walk downtown to go to Woolco (anybody remember Woolco?) and the local McDonalds. You could even see the golden arches from my grandmother's house, which was only a 15 minute walk from my house. She still lives there, and so do my parents, and it's much the same as it's always been.
One morning when I woke up and started to get ready for school, and I noticed that my parents were very quiet. There wasn't any clanking of spoons against cereal bowls, no yelling to my brothers, no discussion of the day's plans. When I got downstairs, my world was shattered in the most unexpected way.
The night before, some kids (probably about 18-19 years old) decided to try and rob the McDonalds. And, because it went wrong, they killed three people and left one to die. Those boys had gone to my school a few years before, they worked in my neighborhood. I'd had my 5th birthday party at that restaurant. I didn't know how to process it.
I went into shock that day; I remember feeling very disconnected from my body, almost like I was floating. I was crying, but it was like it was someone else. Mom and Dad went to work, but I stayed home with my grandmother. It took our community a long time to recover from it, and we never fully did. The building was torn down, and to this day it's the only patch of field not built on in that part of town.
They caught those boys, and they're serving their sentences. One is due for release in a few years, and I don't want to think about what that will mean for people at home.
So, what does this have to do with anything (aside from me possibly fingering my hometown and ruining my location anonymity)? Well, that feeling of shock and disconnect is pretty much all we feel at work here these days, and since there are so many damn news crews around, I'm not sure I haven't been broadcast across the globe by accident when I was just walking to the lab.
I work down the street from one of the top news stories that's going on right now. If you have a TV, you know the details, and you know where it is. Shit happens in this city all the time, but this one is so much more frightening. I rode the bus almost daily with the victim; she lived in my neighborhood. I have colleagues who worked with her. We drove by her lab all the time. For days we worried about walking from the bus stop to the lab, worried about whether some random nutjob was in our neighborhood. Because urban crime is a problem in this city, we didn't know if we'd lost the last bits of protection and safety that we thought we had by working in secure buildings at the uni.
Now that they have their 'person of interest', we know it's not a random crime. No one breached the security of our labs and offices, no one from the outside made it in. Good, right?
Not really. The devil is among us.
I know that all sounds dramatic, and our president made a similar statement about how no amount of security hardware can protect us from the darkness of the human soul when one decides to do something so evil. I get that it's melodramatic. But, it's true. You can only do so much. I also know that everyone is innocent until proven guilty. I hope that everyone involved gets a fair and just trial, and that the proper people are punished.
I don't want to be afraid at work. I don't want to swipe in and start my work for the day, wondering if I've pissed anyone off enough for them to do something like this. I've got a pretty good thing going now - I can do my work and not worry about getting in anybody else's way, and if I screw up I don't risk other people's work. But most people around here work in teams, and I've seen conflicts fester over months and even years. Things that started off as minor annoyances, as differences in style, snowball into personal attacks and vendettas.
For the love of all that's good and holy, people, if you've got a beef with someone, talk about it. Keep the lines of communication open from the beginning and don't let things get this bad.
And hug your kids, spouses, pets, parents, friends. Be thankful. Love them.