Steven (unzeugmatic) wrote,

Strange Days and Good Friends

It's odd, but here in Minneapolis people are heading through their days with a sort of determination of normalcy. Me, I worked late last night and hard through the day because I was so close to finishing my proto-draft of my DM-Multipath manual, and now the main developer is looking it over (late on a Friday afternoon) and nobody's really talking about the downed bridge just up the road. We could actually walk right there during a coffee break, so close is it, except that they're keeping pedestrians away in a wide swath and there's no ready vantage point to go and gape, at least from the ground. Given the enormity of the catastrophe, it's amazing how few casualties there seem to be -- even accounting for the expected increase in the official tally as they are able to get cars out of the river from under the unstable collapsed bridge structure in the murky torrents. It was almost funny to read that somebody was removed from the missing list when he showed up safe at work today.

Well, maybe that's not funny. Pretty much anybody in the Twin Cities could have been on that bridge at that time, and at first it looked as if the casualties might have been incomprehensibly many. This was not one of those cases where it was in any way alarmist to worry about just about anybody who lives here. On Wednesday night, as my co-workers arrived home, they immediately logged in to the office IRC channel to take collective assessment. I hadn't known this, but one of my co-workers was driving in a car directly in front of me when I crossed the Third Avenue Bridge at 5:55 (yes, he knows exactly what time it was -- just less than 10 minutes before the bridge collapse) and he took note of that (he looked in his rearview mirror and saw a green car, and a man wearing a hat, and knew it was me). So he was able to report on my safety to the others pretty quickly.

The very touching thing about yesterday was how many people I heard from, from everywhere and from all pieces of my life. I keep a daily work status checklist, which I use to put together a required weekly status checklist. For my first accomplishment of the day I wrote: "Answered email from around the world from people asking whether I was killed in the bridge collapse". I will not include that in the official weekly, however.

But the email messages -- and phone calls, and the livejournal quests and comments -- added up to something wonderful. I took them in one at a time, but by the end of the long day (as I say, I was at work well into the evening) I realized that, in addition to family members, I had heard from several college friends, many folks on livejournal, my cousins's wife (who called me immediately upon seeing the news first thing in the morning, with great and sincere concern), friends in England and Australia, and former co-workers who have left the Twin Cities. Many of the letters were substantial life updates -- I think some folks thought it would have seemed strange to write me after a long time just to ask whether I were dead. (One of my correspondents -- in a second note -- even admitted as much, that he felt the possible awkwardness.) Ok, now that I've experienced it from this end I can assure everybody: It is not at all awkward, in the slightest in any way, to get a call or a note simply asking if you are ok -- even with the implied "are you dead" subtext I'm poking a little fun at, even from somebody you haven't heard from in several years. Really, I wouldn't have known that had I been on the other end, but it's just fine and quite comforting.

What this meant was at the end of the day, as I was driving home, I was thinking about a whole lot of people I had been in touch with over the previous 24 hours who had all, in a sense, dropped by to visit. This was absolutely a great feeling.

Thanks to all of you who contacted me, either as a comment to my livejournal entry or through email or telephone. The tremendous distress this strange and disturbing tragedy caused me is much diminished because of you all.
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