Yesterday, as I was preparing to go to work in Montgomery County, police there were engaged in a full-out manhunt for an active shooter. I felt a growing sense of paralysis. Word was that public schools were in lockdown as well as some large well-known workplace locations.
When I was younger I don't think it would have phased me. I would have said to myself, "Oh, it isn't anywhere near where I am going" or "What is the likelihood that it's really dangerous to me?" And I would have hopped in the car and headed off with the carefree attitude of the immortal. But not yesterday.
I texted my boss to see if we still had work. I went to Walgreen's to buy Play Doh in case I really was going to work and we needed something fun to do on a rainy afternoon. I texted my daughter. I texted my husband. I couldn't wrap my mind around getting in my car and driving towards an active shooting situation. I wanted permission from someone, anyone, that I didn't have to go.
Memories went through my head. Lockdown drills with preschoolers. Days of indoor recess during the time of the DC Sniper. The day of the shooting at the Columbia Mall and its subsequent impact on our community. The confidence I once had, that my world was generally safe, has eroded. While my life from day to day is remarkably safe, it doesn't take much to shake me anymore.
The text from my boss that we would be needed at work came through and I went. And it was fine. The Montgomery County Police took the suspect into custody, schools went off of lockdown, and life kept on going for those not immediately connected to the tragedy. Everyone could go back to doing what they needed to do.
Everything could go back to normal. Whatever that is.
On an unrelated note, I'd like to share with you this amazing letter to Board of Education chair Christine O'Connor about the hcpss Budget "survey". It's beautifully written, and reinforces my belief that Howard County parents are intelligent, involved, and not easily fooled.