In case you haven’t heard about the Dallas shooting, this NY Times article will help. I write this as I travel at 33,999 feet in the air. I just checked the flight plan monitor for validation. I have been on vacation for the last two weeks, and it has been a glorious adventure through Rome, Paris, and Frankfurt. The food and culture in each place has been amazing. I woke up Friday morning to the horrific idea that the world as I know it has changed. A madman, with a rifle, took aim on the place I call home. The world is a culture of hate.
I am on holiday. Did you hear that? The various places I’ve been visiting engulf my mind, my heart, my being, with food, culture, language, and most especially how the people act toward one another. When I left I might have been on vacation, but I am on holiday as I write this. I can’t tell you about all the authentic food I have eaten in all these places here because that is a beautiful adventure I will take you on soon.
A rude awakening
Shit got real when I woke up at 6 am Friday in Frankfurt, Germany and I realized that my hometown was under attack. Can I use profanity here and my readers stick with me? I hope so because while on holiday even my 10 yo daughter realizes that, when the filters are off, Mommy says, “shit”. If that is the worst she ever hears me say then we’re all good. Come on folks, she just finished 4th grade, and she hears kids say worse than that in the school lavatory. I don’t agree with cursing around kiddos, but they are going to hear these words eventually, and she hears these words from her peers at school. So, it is okay if I slip once in awhile, eh?
You bet “shit” is what I was thinking when I awakened to see my home under attack. I get it, you might be thinking I can’t relate to the actions that were taking place, being in another country, and all. Kindly offer the allowance that Dallas is my home. It’s the place I lay my head, where my family lives, my heart resides there, and as I awakened to breaking world news on the BBC network I learned that my hometown, was under attack, by some lunatic with an assault rifle who wanted to make a point. Being 6 hours ahead, I was learning about the events as they were “breaking” in Dallas, TX.
Can you imagine my feelings? Was there a little bit of shock and awe? You can guarantee that and more. My heart was broken, and that Friday morning was our day to return home. I wondered how I could return my family to our home, and if it was safe do so. City officials in Dallas hadn’t yet made the determination as to whether or not business would happen as usual. People who worked in downtown Dallas didn’t know if they would report to work Friday morning. We were out of time to follow the events as they unfolded on the TV. It was time to go to the airport.
Perhaps the city officials had already made the decision for us. Having no inkling that we couldn’t return home we made our way to Rome Fiumicino airport. We checked in on line, made our way through security, and proceeded to our gate. Everything was going great. The plane was already there, and the flight was on time. Pre-flight check went well, and we were called to board.
Since we were boarding with two young girls we were allowed to board in the first group. Beep. Red light. Even my 4 yo understands red light means stop. We were not permitted to board. Maybe it was the new flight system they were using that day. Maybe it’s because flight travel is sometimes unpredictable. These great machines the Wright brothers brought to life are magnificent, and sometimes a hiccup happens that cause people so inclined to watch the clock, that shit happens. When it hits the fan, it splatters everyone in the vicinity.
It hit the fan, and it splattered us. After a time we were permitted through the gate and lined up along the wall while other passengers had their tickets scanned, and proceeded to the bus for boarding. We wondered if we would be called, but could see the screen that said “boarding issue”. It needed to be resolved before we could board. The nice lady said that it was because we didn’t manually check in at the desk. But, we scanned our electronic tickets to get in the line for security clearance, and we have traveled all across the European Union with online check in over the last two weeks, and it hasn’t been a problem anywhere. The lady scanning our tickets asked, in what seemed like a polite conversation, where we were going. She nodded in agreement and understanding when we told her we were going home to Texas. “Ah, Texas.” Dallas, TX.
A different kind of day
Why was today different?
Today was different because our home was under attack by as many as four snipers, according to the BBC. Five officers lost their lives while providing crowd control at a Black Lives Matter rally in Dallas.
The on the ground BBC News Consultant said that victims were taken to the same hospital that President Kennedy was taken to after he was gunned down. My husband hated him for the sensationalism of saying so, but if the BBC correspondent can say it then I can relate it in the same manner. In the same breath, new news came that Dallas Police now believed there was one gunman. My synopsis: we’re back to the same one gunman theory? It seems unrealistic and unbelievable, but it is the story being reported.
Now we had difficulty getting home.
The desk clerk brought us out of reverie saying “you can board now”. We grabbed our packs and quickly scurried down the jet bridge without making eye contact or looking back. When no one stopped us we kept going.
We were loaded, and it seemed like all was well, then there was an additional 45-minute delay getting pushed back from the airport. We were thrilled to be going home, but we knew we were tight on time for our connection flight from London into Dallas. Interestingly 25 other people, also flying internationally were in the same position, attempting to connect on the same flight. Everyone around us said surely there will be an attendant to collect you, help you through flight check, and get you to your connection.
As we made our way up there bridge a kind British lady was there with a sign for Dallas. Yes, the flight gods saw our predicament and sent help for connection. The lady told us American Airlines just informed her that we were too late to connect for our flight home.
We still had 30 minutes! Perhaps American Airlines knew we were in the air and we hadn’t checked in the required 20 minutes in advance. Maybe our seats had already been resold to standby passengers. Or, maybe Dallas was still confused by being under attack. Did officials simply say no, you will not return home today because we are in a state of confusion? We know this is your home, but tomorrow will be better, safer, and we will have a few more things figured out–tomorrow.
Take any available exit
We made our way through rebooking and were in the line to pass through customs when our intended flight lifted into the air. It seemed to all 25 of us that we had plenty of time to make our initial flight.
Regardless, we were comped a hotel room and given meal vouchers to stay a night in London. We had a delightful conversation with the customs agent who quipped with us about the state of Brexit and its effect on the country. He reminded us how close the vote was, just 48-52, without a high enough percentage of voter turnout. He said that the parliamentarians are considering a new vote, and it is suspected that voters will turn out.
It was an interesting conversation because Texas also flirts with its exit from the Union. It struck us funny that we were discussing politics with the border agent. He shared that each of the three people that promoted Brexit stepped down from office. Now the country is in turmoil, and new leaders must be elected to fix it.
We all agreed the US is an angry place full of hate. Hate is corrosive and it eats away the integrity who we are as individuals. Hatred infiltrates the country and we hold ourselves back from being great. Hate, evidenced by one man, Micah X Johnson, claimed the lives of unsuspecting police officers for events that took place in a different location. It took a robot bomb to claim his life.
Brexit, Texit, an emergency exit, or any exit. Everyone seems to be looking to exit something. We were ready to exit our holiday, but could not find any available exit.
We had to settle in for another night. We entertained ourselves by walking along a street splattered with flowers on both sides. It was a typical vision of an English garden. Our tongues were teased at The Plough restaurant by garlic mushrooms, and calamari ring appetizers. The girls had enough of tasting local fare and opted for anything close to American kid food. One opted for chicken and french fries while the other wanted a chicken burger. I had a traditional bowl of chicken pot pie with a side a side of steamed carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower and a side of chips. Chips is the English equivalent of french fries, but I didn’t know that at the time. The pot pie part was served in a similar bowl as one imagines the beef stew at Cracker Barrel, but the pie part wasn’t anything imaginable. Add a warm flaky, Pillsbury Dough Boy kind of fluffy croissant, made from scratch, to the top for the pie shell and you can begin to imagine the deliciousness before me. My husband ordered a steak pot pie that was similar in nature.
This morning we awoke, ready to get home. The shuttle to the airport was promised every 30-minutes but hadn’t been to our location in over an hour. We opted for a taxi so that yesterday’s events didn’t repeat themselves.
Today we made it through security and to the gate with a little time to spare. As we boarded the plane I picked up a free copy of the London tabloid newspaper The Sun and read about the events at home. I haven’t heard any American propaganda about Johnson’s reign of terror. Like I mentioned, My family has been in Europe. Everything is propaganda in Europe, whether it is home or abroad. I am at 35,997 feet, with just over an hour of flight remaining. And, I wonder why there is so much hate. We can point fingers about who is to blame, but when I try it, three fingers point back at me. This not a race issue. It is an issue of hate. It is time to make a change, and I’m starting with me. The man in the mirror. I’m asking you to do the same. Michael Jackson sang it best:
“I’m starting with the man in the mirror
I’m asking him to change his ways
And no message could have been any clearer
If you wanna make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself,
And then make a change”
We’ve all been victim of a selfish kind of love at some time or other. What will you do about it? Will you hate, or will you start with yourself, make a change, and infect the world?
Maybe you are like the officials in Dallas and don’t know what to do in the early hours after the attack. That’s okay, as long as fear doesn’t polarize into hatred.
Please comment below with your personal effort to rid the world of hate. What will you do to make the world a better place?