Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Living In Oblivion

I should probably mention before I start sharing what is a long list of ridiculousness that “Living In Oblivion” is the name of a series of CDs that might be the source of all of the awesome in the world. If I’m lyin’, I’m dyin’.  You should check it out here:

Anyway, that’s not what this is about. But now I have a yen to listen to The Church, so it’s all good.

Yesterday. That’s what I wanted to tell you about.

Yesterday afternoon. I was sitting at my desk, working, windows open, singing along with Barry Manilow – “Ooooooh Maaaaaaandy! You came and you gave without Taaaaaaaaking! But I sent you away!” (By the way, what’s up with that? Hey, Mandy, STOP BEING A DOORMAT! And Barry, why are you such a jerk to poor Mandy? Seriously!) – when I heard sirens.

To be fair to me, this happens a lot. I don’t live very far from a fire station, so if there’s an accident or something, they go zooming past my house, sirens a-wailing.  I paused long enough in my (overly dramatic) Barry-Sing-A-Long to think, “Oh, I hope there wasn’t a bad accident,” and then resumed working and caterwauling  singing.

And then I heard MORE sirens. And MORE. It sounded like they were pretty close by, too, but there’s an Irving station down the road where people REGULARLY take their life into their hands by pulling out into traffic, so I thought, “Oh no, someone probably got hit at the Irving station, I should say a little prayer for whoever it is.” So I did.  And then I resumed my work. Lalalalalalala. That Barry Manilow sure knows how to help a girl get through a busy afternoon.

At one point, I did look out the window only to see a largeish group of people hanging out in the parking lot. Weird, I thought. But then I thought, you know, it’s time for college students to be moving in – maybe all of those people know each other. Yay for your little parking lot reunion! Have a good school year! Study hard! I mean, who am I to judge if a bunch of people want to stand around chatting. Standing around and chatting is one of my favourite things to do.

It was about 6:30 – day long over, Barry turned off – when Flinkie called me. “Dude, WHAT is going on at your house?”

“Uh, nothing?” I looked around. Nope, situation normal.

“I just drove by your street and there are like a zillion firetrucks and caution tape!”

“Oh,” I said. “Um, I did hear sirens earlier,” I added, as though that would make up for the fact that apparently, there had been some sort of situation outside my window, and I was unaware of it.

I got online and googled. Sure enough, the apartment complex next to mine? Had been on FIRE. How badly, you ask?

This badly.

If I had stepped onto my balcony, I would have been able to SEE this. But I didn’t. Not only did I not step outside, I never smelled any smoke or had any indication that there was anything at all going on except for the sound of sirens, which I did hear, but thought were further away.

I was oblivious.

I’m telling this story for a couple of reasons. First, because there are obviously some people in my area who are now without homes. The American Red Cross is doing their good work supporting them – if you would also like to help, you can donate to the Red Cross here:

I’m also telling this story because I am ashamed of my behaviour. I heard many sirens, indicating that someone was in trouble. And I did NOTHING. I couldn’t even be bothered to look out my window. I was comfortable, working in my office, singing along with iTunes, minding my own business while there was a building LITERALLY burning down next door.  And while this is kind of an extreme case, it makes me think of how many times I have passed by someone who was in distress and either not noticed them or decided it was not my business.

I’m not the only one who’s done this, I don’t think, but it’s a terrible thing to do; looking away consciously, or opting out by refusing to look out the window is not acceptable. And as I see the political ads, the political debates, the political DRAMA that is unfolding as this election progresses, I am only more convinced of this truth: we can’t count on our leaders to lift us up, to lend a hand, to reach out. We have to reach out to each other. And we can’t do that if we refuse to see each other.

I was oblivious yesterday. I won’t be oblivious again.

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