The bombing of the Boston Marathon was horrendous. I heard about it that afternoon at a hardware store on the border of Washington DC where I work. One customer made a brief comment, and an associate who’d just come in for the evening shift confirmed the news. Other than this, no one mentioned it.
It was the same on Tuesday. I expected to hear at least some talk or speculation about the bombing with all the media saturation. But no one mentioned it. Even after five days of breaking news, not one customer had commented.
All that week, our customers’ routine ebb and flow simply continued humming along to our upbeat background muzak. This was a stark contrast to the scenes of mayhem unfolding in Boston. “There’s something happening here…” I mused, recalling some portent lyrics from not-so-long ago.
“For What It’s Worth,” cue Buffalo Springfield:
Given our proximity to the nerve center of our nation, I was mildly surprised when everyone just continued on with their gardening, plumbing and painting projects.
In our small town of Takoma Park dogs drag their owners into our pet-friendly store for a treat. Babywearing moms and dads shop for their nesting supplies. Avid gardeners stock up on plants, seeds and soil. School children come in for penny candy in the afternoon. Yes, really! Plumbers, electricians, contractors—workers of all sort—supply a steady stream of retail business.
At first I wondered if we are really that inured to the daily onslaught of news about one mass shooting after another, children-killing drone attacks, industrial accidents and oil spills to focus on yet another violent event? Maybe. We are experiencing one calamity after another these days, forcing us to find healthy ways to cope with such extreme distress.
The only public response I shared with my community was at the Wednesday night drum jam. With a few quiet words of remembrance, we held the Boston community in our thoughts and prayers. No one said the T-word. Unlike 2001 when we had to deal with anthrax-laced mail and the DC sniper after 9/11, this time we had the luxury of refusing to be terrorized by the bombing or manipulated by the media.
I’m grateful for all the people who crossed my path last week with smiles, patience and projects to finish. Focusing on what’s good about life is not a bad thing. During these dark days of mourning for the victims of these tragedies, continuing on with our lives takes courage and grace.
~Nan Logsdon Mandelkorn