The Day You Could Have Died, Which is Everyday

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It will sound more dramatic than it was. Or, it was just as dramatic as it sounds, but walking away unscathed makes it seem like it was no big deal.

I went to a meeting for work today. It was in the basement of a community center. About an hour in, a woman ran into our room, shut the light off and announced a man with a gun was in the building.

People locked the doors. They barricaded them with tables.

One man announced to the others that if the guy came in, they would rush him. I felt comforted by this.

A few women hid behind a podium and chairs.

At first I crouched down and then I leaned against the wall.

I kept thinking no chair or table is going to save me from a bullet. We are sitting ducks in this room.

Two people called the police.

I had no reception in that basement. I didn’t know what to do if I did. It was not goodbye and I didn’t want to worry anyone.

Though what if this was goodbye and I had the chance to say so.

The cops came quickly. Upon their arrival, some men left the room. I stayed because there was no proof they’d caught the guy.

Someone said it was an attempted carjacking. They said a man with a licensed gun tried to go after the perpetrators, shooting one, but they still got away.

Finally we were cleared to leave. The parking lot was surrounded in crime scene tape. People who had driven to the meeting were told they could go, but if they had a bullet hole in their car, to please report it.

A man pulls up to the scene and asks me what happened. I tell him the best I can. Another woman walking by stops to ask too and we talk for awhile. She laments the carjacking that happened just last night with the baby still in the car. I tell her about my co-workers father whose car was stolen while he was pumping gas into it.

We shake our heads. 10:30 am. In broad daylight.

I take a Lyft to work and ramble to my driver, a young woman, about how this thing has given me new perspective about gun violence. How real it is. How frightening it is. How it plays a much bigger role in many people’s lives in this city and I didn’t understand until now.

No.

I still don’t understand it.

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