I work in a building just up the road from the Navy Yard. Also a base. Also a secured facility. We can see the Navy Yard from the upper floors of our building. I watched the helicopters circle for a while yesterday, before returning to work.
We were on lock down yesterday as well. Though not as long as the Navy Yard was. Some of them were stuck in their building for 14 hours.
This morning there is a difference in the atmosphere.
There are more armed police at each entrance. Anyone with a purse, bag or backpack is having their stuff searched.
Some of he cops try to smile, present a friendly face, put people at ease. Some of them are far more solemn and stern. Some have an almost accusing look in their eyes. Theirs is a tough task. The vast majority of the people coming through the doors are good, solid, decent people. These are the people those police men and women are here to protect. But mingled in there somewhere, at least yesterday, was a person that meant harm to the people in the building. How does one tell which is which? A car scanned too quickly…a person waived on in a rush… could lead to dead people by the end of the day.
There is a part of me that is glad I do not have that job, though I have gone through some of the training. And there is part of me, the part that wants to do something meaningful, that wishes I did in fact have that job.
I first applied to be a SPO at NSA in 1988. I was rejected because, at that time, I had some issues with some of my activities. Had I been brought on way back then I would likely still be there. It’s a federal job, you don’t just walk away from one of those (most of the time). So I can, to some small degree, put myself in the place of the responding officers when the shots rang out yesterday morning. It literally could have been me, had certain things gone differently.
You have to wonder, or at least I do, how I would have handled it. Perhaps it’s best I didn’t have to find out.
There is a lot more eye contact this morning. People are going about their business, and a laugh or two can be heard here and there. But people are looking at people. People are scanning the room. There is a lot more situational awareness. A lot more realization that anything can happen, at any time, in any place, and so it is best to be aware of what is happening around you.
I have always lived that way. I have always examined strangers, scanned rooms, made eye contact with passers-by. So for me it’s just Tuesday.
For those around me it is “The Morning After the Navy Yard Shootings”.