Thursday, April 3, 2014

it could happen to me

I accepted a job at a law school in 2010 and never thought about my personal safety. Does anyone really, besides a police officer, or perhaps someone working in a sketchy neighborhood, or maybe a jail? (Granted there are countless others, but I don't have time to list them.)

Working at my school, I've heard a few stories. There was a bomb threat to the courts that used to be in the top floors of our building so the school was evacuated once, but the courts have since moved. There was a threat to the Dean made on Facebook by a student, but she was "crazy" and off her meds - while it was taken seriously, it was never seen as a genuine threat. These stories make those ripped from the headlines type stories hit a lot closer to home.

I office in the Office of the President and Dean. The guy in charge. My office is across a small suite from the Academic Dean. The one whose name is on the dismissals, who sees students about appealing decisions over grades and disputes. Most of them are professional and perfectly harmless, but you never know. 1300 students with 1300 different backgrounds enter the building I work in every day. And you just never know.

We recently had panic buttons installed on every computer in the building, which is as proactive as it is terrifying. I hope I never need to use it. But it's nice that it's there. My office door has a lock, but it also has a window wider than the door. There's nowhere to hide but under the desk. The fact that I have wondered what I would do enough times to actually have a plan is scary.

Scary people - whether they suffer from mental illness, hold a grudge, or just have a lot of misplaced anger - can obviously do what they intend to anywhere. I don't need to tell you how sad it is when innocent lives are lost for absolutely no reason. But every time something happens, like yesterday's shooting at Fort Hood - another senseless, violent act, and a second at that base in five years - I wonder why, and I wonder if it will ever be me. My school, my mall, my grocery store. I understand that some people choose to protect their property and have guns to do just that, but I don't understand why an average citizen needs a semi-automatic weapon that is capable of so much damage, so fast.

I don't want to get political. I just want to be a little sad, and a little scared. And a whole lot irrationally optimistic that there's some way for this senseless violence to end and we can go back to feeling safe in places where a large number of people are gathered.

Thinking of those at Fort Hood today, both the lives lost and those who felt their safety threatened once again.

21 comments:

  1. My thoughts and prayers are with Fort Hood today too.

    I work at a university as well. We had panic buttons installed in our offices last year and our office does "active shooter" training at least once a year. It really is scary to think that those things are needed, but I am thankful for them just in case they are ever needed.

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  2. It really can happen any time, anywhere, to anyone.

    My thoughts are heavy today.

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  3. I'm thinking about Fort Hood today too.

    As an employee in a high school, unfortunately, this is brought to my mind a lot. Just the other day, we had an intruder in the building. (It ended up being harmless, but still scary!) I hope that you never have to use that panic button, and I hope that people get the help they need so they don't feel the need to act in senselessly violent ways.

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  4. I always get sad for several days after such acts of senseless crimes and lost lives.

    It really can happen anytime, anywhere to anyone. It is so scary to think about, and it can drive you crazy!

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  5. I use to worry about this a lot at my old job. We hired a lot of former military and law enforcement people and then the HR Mistress of Doom would go around treating them all horribly before unceremoniously firing them.

    I guess another benefit to working at home is I don't worry about it as much. It's so scary to think about but it's great that you're thinking ahead. It never hurts to be prepared.

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  6. What happened at Fort Hood is so tragic. My hearts definitely go out to everyone affected. I had a friend there when it happened 5 years ago. I remember how scary it was then.

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  7. Very scary. And so sad, too.
    My office deals with sensitive things, so, our office door is locked as an extra precaution. There's also mandatory training on what to do if a situation like this arises. It's insane that these things are actually necessary. :/

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  8. I know where you're coming from. I work in a small marketing office in a small town but I've thought about these senseless acts of violence when I go to downturn Raleigh or get on a plane. I have an aspiration of living in NYC for a while and sometimes I can't help but think about how it's one of the biggest targets for terrorism. We live in a scary world.

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  9. as sad as it is to have to live in a small state of fear or 'will it ever happen to me' we kind of have to now. the thing is we live in a place today where it can happen anywhere. last year the mall i go to often had a shooting and i could have easily been there.

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  10. I can def relate to your fear. I worked at a semi sketchy college for years and the dean of students who dealt with all disciplinary actions worked in my office. I also have a fear when going to movies since the theatre shooting last summer in Colorado. I'm always super paranoid and make sure I can locate the exits. I find it so sad that you seriously aren't safe anywhere.

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  11. I still feel numb about what happened. To me, I can't even comprehend that it happened again, same place. I never worked in a super scasry place, but my last company, my area was open office concept. All out in the open. And there was a crazy guy. No kidding. And the crazier he got, we had different plans on getting out the building in case he ever did anything. How sad is that?!? I just don't get it. So sad. Prayers for all those at Fort Hood.

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  12. It is so scary and so sad how often it is happening lately. If can happen to anyone, anytime and anyplace. So very tragic.

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  13. After the Dark Knight movie theatre shooting, I just sat and cried. We can't do anything anymore without having to worry about what might happen. We can't go to school--we can't go to work--we can't do our christmas shopping or simply go see a movie without welcoming a threat into our lives. It's scary to think about. And I hate that it's becoming almost commonplace at this point. Thinking of those in Ft. Hood with you. :-/

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  14. Another important reminder to not wait until tomorrow - it's quite sad to even have the "what if" thought in your mind, much less have it be a reality you may have to face. I have less workplace fear, but the random acts of violence are what keep me up at night (as does the crackling of leaves outside my bedroom window)

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  15. My dear friend was a military therapist on site at Fort Hood during the shooting years ago. I remember now how scared I was then for her and her family.

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  16. It really is so sad that we even have to think about these things. My parents were obsessed with teaching us to be safe in pretty much every situation, so I probably have my guard up about those things more than most people. I think we have to be irrationally optimistic, because the only other choice is to just accept it, and while it probably won't end either way, acceptance takes away any possibility that it will.

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  17. The world is pretty dangerous, and that's sad. A nurse at Angel's hospital was recently attacked in the parking ramp by a former patient's family member, stabbed with pen, badly enough that she was admitted to the hospital. It's a big hospital, she wasn't someone Angel's worked with before, but still, that strikes pretty close to home!

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  18. I cannot believe that this happened again there. I am so sad for Fort Hood. You're right - it really could happen anywhere. I have frequent thoughts of what I would do if we had a similar situation at my school. I have thought over and over what I personally would do, but it's scary to even think about it.

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  19. I get worried all the time, whether I'm at home or out in public, that I'll be targeted or a place around me will be. It's unfortunate the number of times I think of crazy situations and what I would do in case the crazy situation actually happened. Most of it can be attributed to my overactive imagination and how much my dad harped on me about personal safety. It is scary, but at least we're aware. There's not much else we can do besides that.

    My heart goes out to those in Fort Hood, too.

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  20. These senseless shootings make me so sad.
    I agree, these semi auto weapons - I can't even contemplate why they are needed. I'll just say it, I'm an anti gun person. To each his own, but there's just so many in the wrong hands at this point. Regulations do nothing.

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  21. It's crazy the world we live in, and I will never understand why people fight for the rights of automatic weapons. I will support your gun rights, but I need your automatics. If you're going to kill someone or something, I want you to work at least a little for it instead of popping off round after round.

    The Fort Hood shooting hit even closer to home as one of the victims was a friend's brother in law.

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