Wednesday, January 26, 2005

The aftermath in Glendale

It's significant that my first reaction to finding Los Feliz Blvd. something like a war zone this morning was to think "al Qaeda." We're conditioned by the news.

When I learned that the bus I was riding had to follow a detour, I got out and began walking. Immediately the drone of five helicopters, hovering stationary up in the gray sky, set an ominous tone. Police cars blocked intersections. Yellow do-not-cross tapes blocked some stretches of sidewalk. It was about 11:00 a.m. and I still hadn't learned about the train derailment, which had occurred around 6:00 a.m. As I passed a department-store parking lot, I could see half a dozen satellite-dishes thrust up from news vans among the parked cars. Because activity seemed to center in the parking lot, my next thought was "hostage situation." But after I walked under the railroad overpass and saw a couple of tanker trucks marked "hazardous materials containment" parked in the deserted street, my guess went back to "al Qaeda." The drone of the helicopters was unrelenting as I continued walking. They were probably just news choppers, but because they were too high for me to see any details, I just assumed they were police or military.

When I finally heard the story of the aborted suicide and consequent train collisions, I still thought "Okay, was the guy a terrorist with an assumed name? Or, had the guy been set up by terrorists to do it that way?" Automatic. See A, think B. Maybe in the current climate it's a good thing to be emotionally prepared for the worst. Or maybe the bad guys are succeeding in messing with our heads.

My heart goes out to the people who lost loved ones, to those who were injured, and to the emergency personnel on the scene.

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