A lot of stories about people who find themselves in bad situations start with “This kind of stuff only happens to other people.”
Yesterday I learned that we are just like other people. I was at work reading specification documents (a job hazard) and listening to music. I was planning on working an hour or two more and then heading off into the warmth of the weekend.
Suddenly there was a loud sound and some tremors in the building. The tremors were somewhat familiar as I used to work in a building where construction workers were building a car park nearby, so they would blast underground and my office would tremor a little bit. Hence, I was not really panicky. Then a colleague of mine looked up and said, “That’s an explosion.” and he went towards the window to look outside. Immediately the building alarm went off.
We grabbed our stuff and headed towards the exit. I almost never go anywhere without my handbag or coat, but this time I thought we’d be able to get back in later so I grabbed my phone, had time to unplug the earphones hooked to it and stuffed that into my pocket (the things we do sometimes..), then I followed suit and walked quickly towards the exit staircases. A quick look showed that the window in the stairwell on our floor was shattered. My colleagues and I went towards the exit stairs at the front instead.
We ran down immediately. Once we reached outside we saw shattered glass everywhere. The office building’s door was intact. We stepped out and people kept signaling to us not to stand on the sidewalk where glass was still falling.
Everybody was really shocked. My first thought was that it’s something small and silly that will be cleared up. We’ll whinge about it and get back to work in an hour or so.
Then I saw my colleague, a fellow writer, shaking and in tears. I remembered she had IMed me a few minutes ago letting me know she was leaving for the weekend and I had wished her a good weekend. She did not look good. I tried to reassure her, but the her phone call to her boyfriend got through and I stepped aside.
People were shocked and confused, just like I was. I called the bf and told him I have bad news and to make sure he was seated. Then I told him there’s been an explosion but I’m fine. We’re outside the building and there’s glass everywhere. I saw my earlier colleague walking back towards me and I told the bf I’ll call him later. I seemed calm and he didn’t sound worried (Engineers..too rational sometimes) so we hung up.
My colleague explained that she was walking out of the office building and saw smoke and heard the sound. Glass was raining down so she ran into the shops. She was very shaken. It was a bit windy and I started to shiver a bit.
She said she had to go and I told her it’s ok and that I’d tell whoever who’s looking for employees that I saw her and she was ok but had gone home. Another colleague was talking about a government building being where the explosion took place. It seems the smoke and all was visible from one of the developer’s office earlier.
Ambulances were starting to drive past us. I was getting a bit uncomfortable and was wondering if I should try to go back upstairs to my office to grab my belongings. In my mind, I didn’t want to be that person screaming “My handbag!” whom the guards held back from running back into the building. So I steeled myself and contemplated going home.
Now more and more ambulances were driving through the street and the guards from other buildings were starting to cordon the street. I walked away towards the bus stop.
I stood across and watched people walk away. I saw tram drivers peer out of their seats wondering what was going on in their city. I called home to tell my Mom that I was fine. She watches the news all the time and she would definitely find out about it eventually anyway. Might as well let her know otherwise she’d be worried.
Suddenly I saw the glass of the mall housing my favorite makeup store shatter. This was the last straw. I called the bf to come pick me up as I had no money or house keys. We each have a set of each other’s apartment keys in case of emergency. He said he was going to take the subway to come get me. About 5 minutes later I was getting really antsy and wanted to get out of that place. I urged the bf to get a taxi. He showed up 15 minutes later saying the taxi driver threw him out about 100 meters away saying he had to get out of there.
We walked towards our regular bus stop, hopped on the first bus we saw, and headed straight home.
It’s been a very strange day, and I’m still trying to process some thoughts in my head. I remember stepping on glass and thinking “I’m wearing the right shoes”. What kind of thought is that? I was nursing an inflamed achilles tendon and had worn really sturdy sneakers to work that day. It was not a bad idea actually. If I had worn sandals or something, I would have had cuts.
Sigh, life goes on though. I’m not leaving Oslo or anything. I love my life and this city way too much to let these type of situations colour my opinion. Ultimately, it’s just a day in our lives, isn’t it? There’ll be better, happier days out there that will outshine this dark, gray day. Of that, I am very, very certain.
To my friends who called, messaged, Facebook-ed, and Tweeted me. Thank you for your concern 🙂 It is very much appreciated from this corner of the world.