Lynn Gold (figmo) wrote,
Lynn Gold

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Three months after The Big Disaster(tm)

All over the news people have been commemorating the three-month anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks.


Don't get me wrong; I hate terrorists as much as the next person. I just think much of what I've seen is pretty poorly handled. We've got a government telling us these guys in Afghanistan are our enemies, yet this same government won't even let members of the press see the "proof."

I'm not used to expressing my opinions on this kind of topic, but once in a while I feel a need to say something.

If these Al Quaeda guys are the problem, fine -- let's get 'em. I'm concerned our President has gotten us into a war to boost his popularity and not for the right reasons -- to stop a bunch of cold-blooded killers from committing more murders.

I saw several people who were directly affected by the whole thing. Katie Couric was interviewing a woman whose husband was a flight attendant killed that day, and I was shocked when Couric had the gall to name the 13-year-old son who was in therapy! How rude! This poor family is trying to recover, and Couric just sent the boy back several steps by mentioning his name on national television. What a bimbo! You'd think the woman would know therapy is not considered "acceptable" in some parts of the U.S., but nooooooooo!

They also had on the NYPD tenor who's been getting so much exposure since the 9/11 attack. I keep watching him and thinking, "There's no way in hell they're going to put this guy into a dangerous situation after this!" He can go around in his uniform, all clean and shiny, and pick up way more extra bucks singing -- as long as he keeps wearing that uniform. From the NYPD's point of view I'm sure he's a great PR tool. He's also easy on the ears, even if I do hear the breaks and changes in the registers of his voice. Officer Rodriguez makes up for it by always using a subtext when he sings so you feel the song. I'm happy for him, and at the same time you wonder how hard he has to hide his ebullience over his situation, especially since he's benefitting because so many other suffered, especially since the situation wasn't his fault.

It's really awkward benefitting from a disaster. In October, 1989, my father was in Intensive Care fighting colon cancer. I was a wreck because I knew his days were numbered, yet I was still simultaneous working full-time and going to school full-time and taking much flack at work for it. I was slowly coming unglued by all the pressure.

I remember that Tuesday all too well. (Yet another Tuesday....)

I had gone to the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors meeting that morning as I always did for my radio news lab. When I say I "simultaneously" worked and went to school I often did so in the most literal sense. I attended the BoS meetings in lieu of having to be in the lab that afternoon so I could be on-site at work during the day. I had a private office, so I would close the door, open my work in one window on my workstation while opening an editor window elsewhere and writing my stories. I would then call the radio news lab and pretend I was calling in from the County Government complex. (Ah, the magic of radio.... :-) )

Anyhow, I had called in my stories and was really getting into my work, part of which involved debugging version 2.0 of FrameMaker. I was on the phone with the support guy from Frame Technologies (this was before Adobe bought them out) describing my bug. He was doing what I told him to do to reproduce the bug, and then he exclaimed, "Oh my GOD!"
I figured he'd finally reproduced the bug I'd been describing for the last week. Instead, the ground rumbled and the building shook. This was when I realized wherever the quake was coming from, it was closer to him than to me (earthquakes travel at the speed of sound). He said, "Excuse me while I crawl under my desk."

I replied, "I think I'll do likewise." The phone disconnected, and bits and pieces of ceiling were falling in some parts of the building. When the rumbling subsided I exited the building through the front door. We had all figured it was just a routine earthquake (when you've lived out here a while, there really are such things as "routine earthquakes"). Then someone tuned her portable radio to KCBS, the all-news station and heard the Bay Bridge had collapsed.

The whole thing seemed exaggerated, so most of us went back in. About ten minutes later there was an aftershock where pieces of ceiling fell in my office. I decided it was more important to be alive than it was to care whether my boss would fire me for leaving before my hours were up, so I went home.

When I got home things looked pretty normal. The power was off, but I was prepared. I had a flashlight handy. My dog's breath smelled of chocolate because the one major thing that had fallen was my bookshelf, which now blocked her path to her food and water. A box of dietetic chocolate cookies had fallen on the floor in the bedroom, and since Fuzzball did The Right Thing and hid under the bed, the cookies were the only available food. She had eaten half the box, decided she'd had enough, then stopped. I was happy to see her alive, and was grateful she knew when to quit.

I eventually got a phone line out to my mother, who said she "wasn't worried" about me. Great. It's nice to know your parents care. Dad was out of Intensive Care and was watching the news coverage in his private room on a big-screen TV.

I had bought instant Tabbouleh a few days before, and I had all I needed to reconstitute it at hand, so that was dinner. I managed to get a line out to my friend Eric P. Scott, also a newshound, and we stayed on the phone several hours comparing news coverage and keeping each other from going berserk.

The next day I didn't have to go to work or school. Instead, while most of my friends were wondering what to do with themselves, I spent the day hanging out at Channel 11 helping produce special newscasts, eating free food, and having the time of my life.

When I got back to work and school, everyone else was suddenly as shaken up by the quake as I was over my general life situation (my father passed away less than two months after the quake). I had no problems getting extensions I needed for my classes. My place was mostly unscathed (I just had to pick up the bookshelf, restock it, and all was as it was before the quake).

In an odd sort of way I benefitted from this natural disaster, and I see some of the same thing when I see people like Officer Rodriguez coming to the forefront for doing stuff he was doing before the attack.

When these things happen I always hope people will start being nicer to each other, but it never happens. The flight attendant's widow and her family are expected to "get on with their lives" as if nothing happened.

That also brings up another point: Some folks are hit harder by any given tragedy than others. I was ready to gag when all the maudlin stuff after the attack kept going on for weeks afterward. YES, people died. YES, it was unspeakably horrible -- but does that mean we should let the enemy defeat us by killing our sense of humor? I hope not!

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