Tuesday, September 6, 2011

One More Reason To Get The Heck Out of Dodge

I haven't been able to function well lately as I've been hit with a whole slew of health problems.  I was due for my annual appointment anyway, so I set up an appointment to see a nurse.  One of my doctors left town and my other doctor is semi-retired and only available on Thursdays, so now I have to see an APN instead of an MD.  That's the state of health care where I live, but this nurse actually does a more thorough job than any doctor I've ever seen.

So, I was driving to my appointment this morning, a 45-minute drive into the city, and I got stopped at the same traffic light three times.  It has been a while since I've driven into the city, but I couldn't imagine that the population exploded that much over the summer, so I blamed all the traffic on the Labor Day tourists.  However, as we inched along, it became apparent that there was a serious problem up ahead.  There were police cars everywhere and the main highway was shut down in Carson City.

I got up to the intersection where most of the activity was, and saw that both the iHOP and the McDonalds across the street from it were cordoned off with police tape and customers were standing in huddles out in front of the restaurants.  My family and I eat at the iHOP all the time and love the staff there.  We always leave big tips, because the waiters and waitresses are so friendly that they just make your day.

Reporters were running all over the place with their cameras and I didn't see any wrecked cars, so I suspected this must be a shooting incident.  Just yesterday my husband and I drove past a  new business in town that is a gun pawn shop.  They have a sign out front that says, "Semi-automatic weapons and assault rifles."

My husband said, "That's just great.  All we need now is a bunch of idiots running around with assault rifles, as if this town doesn't already have enough problems."  Nevada has the highest unemployment rate in the nation, so you don't want a bunch of disgruntled workers having access to guns.

Well, when I got home an hour later, we looked up the news story on the Internet and sure enough, some idiot with an AK-47 went into the iHOP and shot 11 people!  4 are dead.  They had to care flight some of the shooting victims out of there in critical condition.

I was trying to find a route that would still take me to the medical office, but traffic was backed up on all the side streets.  They had police directing traffic at all the major intersections.  I looked at the clock and saw it was 3 minutes until my appointment and the medical office was about 20 miles away.  So, I grabbed my mobile phone and tried my darndest to read the touch screen, which looked just like a block of black in the sun's glare.  I covered it with my hand and found the doctors' office number, called and was instantly put on hold for about 5 minutes.

I got up to another intersection with a bunch of cops, and it suddenly hit me that Nevada recently passed a law that it is illegal to drive and talk on mobile phones.  Here I was sitting there in my car with this stupid phone pressed to my ear while I was on hold.  So, I struggled with the glare some more, trying to find which centimeter of screen to push to get it on speakerphone.  I couldn't really tell, so I guessed, hoping I wasn't pressing "End Call".  I got lucky and pressed the speakerphone, and then set the phone on the seat beside me.

When I finally got a live person and explained the situation, she rescheduled me for an appointment the next day.  She said.  "10:30 or 11:00?"  I said 10:30.  She said, "Let's do 11:00 because it will give you more time to get here."

I was annoyed by that comment.  I would have been there on time if they hadn't shut down the highway.  This was totally out of my control.  I'm probably the most punctual person on earth.  But I knew that the receptionist wasn't in the middle of this snarl of traffic and couldn't possibly understand how dire the situation was for every driver in the city.  I suspect she probably received dozens of calls right after mine from people in the same predicament.

I ended up driving through a supermarket parking lot just to get out of traffic, and I found a driveway that took me in the opposite direction, so that I could go back home. 

You know what is weird?  The last time my husband and I went there a few weeks ago, I remember sitting in a booth and thinking, "If someone walked in the door right now with a gun and started shooting up the place, there would be nowhere for us to hide other than under the table."

I have no idea why I even had such a morbid thought.  I've never had that thought in any other restaurant where I have eaten.  But for an instant there, I remember feeling terror and nervously watching the people coming in the front door while also looking around for a back door where people could escape.  As of this moment, no one knows what the shooter's motives were, because he shot himself.  Some State agencies in the city have been put on lock down.  Apparently, the guy shot up several businesses surrounding the iHOP and some cars in the parking lots.  Like I said in the title of this post, the increase in crime in this area is just one more reason to get the heck out of Dodge.

UPDATE:  I went into the city the next day for my appointment, and they still had the entire shopping center and street blocked off.  Various investigative agencies were still processing the scene.  It looked like the news media still hadn't moved out.  A lot of people have been affected deeply by this incident, because that iHOP has been around forever and has been a favorite of so many locals.  I'm sure everyone is thinking, "That could have been me or someone I knew."

My condolences go out to the victims' families and friends, and all the survivors who had to experience such senseless violence.  This act by one man is so far reaching.  All the businesses in that area are now losing money while the incident is being investigated, and so many businesses were already struggling to begin with.  I suspect some of them may have to close down permanently.  A lot of employees are out of work.  Instinct tells me that the iHOP won't come back.  They'll probably have to sell the building and whoever buys it will have to completely remodel it. 

As I was driving past the scene this second time, a woman in front of me turned her head to look, but also turned her wheel and almost drove up over the cones into the oncoming lane, which makes me wonder how many car accidents have been caused by gawking drivers in the area since the incident.  Since there doesn't appear to be anyone alive to prosecute, I hope that law enforcement will wrap things up soon and let the surrounding business owners get back to making their bread and butter.  There's no point in making a terrible thing worse.


Ms Martyr said...

You've had premonitions before, haven't you?

Incidents such as this are terrifying and there's no way of knowing when they'll occur.

Mikey said...

I'm curious as to what the reason was behind this shooting. I think people are super angry because of our economy. Things that were hard already are unbearable for a lot of people.
Scary that it's a place you've eaten, and had those thoughts like that. It does leave you feeling defenseless these days, knowing you might be caught unawares by a shooter. It's a scary world we're living in.
I also can't believe that gun shop advertises assault rifles. WTH does someone need an assault rifle for anyway? except for something like this, that's all I can figure.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Well, if he was shooting up cars and you were in a Dodge that makes even more sense :)

Seriously, that receptionist telling you to come at 11 because it will give you more time makes absolutely no sense at all.
Why wouldn't you have more time to get there if your appt was at 10:30? The time you have only depends on what time you leave the house. Seriously. What an idiot!

I feel sorry for those innocent people, and their families, that were shot and/or killed at the IHOP. Strange that you had the vision and feeling the last time you were there, too.


Mary said...

I just heard from a local reporter there that he had relationship issues with his girlfriend who was a waitress there (unverified). What a mess that must be there. So tragic.

JanLou said...

Thats pretty scary when something like that happens in a place you know.

Mary said...

My info above there is incorrect. I guess the reporter was relating speculation from a bystander. My bad, sorry.

Breathe said...

What a senseless tragedy. And what a huge coward, shooting people at ihop with an assault rifle.

While it may not have been his motive, I agree the economy is driving people to their wits end. Hopefully we'll see some light in this tunnel.

Grey Horse Matters said...

I feel sorry for all the innocent victims. Your husband was right, just what you need in town is more guns in this economy. If I were you I'd seriously consider moving when you can.

Reddunappy said...

I seen this story on our news. Funny I thought of you and wondered how close you were to it, Too close!!!!
Glad you werent there that day. S sad sad thing :o(.

Fantastyk Voyager said...

Oh my, I'm glad your family wasn't there! But, those other folks, how sad!

Laura said...

Wow - that is scary and very sad at the same time.

Glad you and your family weren't there at that time.

Dreaming said...

How terrible for the victims, their friends and their families. What an awful thing to happen. Imagine the nightmares for those who were in the area... and then the trickle down effects, including the traffic that would impact the businesses in the area as well. Bummer. Bad day for all.
I hope you have smooth sailing for your next appointment!

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

I did have a paragraph in this post talking about the victims, but must have deleted it. I re-read the post this morning and realized that it makes me sound like I'm complaining about not making it to my appointment more than anything else. I always have people talking to me and the phone ringing and ridiculous things happening all around me when I try to write my posts, so they come out a bit scattered due to all the interruptions. I usually give up and just push the "Publish" button since so many other things need my attention, but believe me, I feel a strong empathy for the victims. (I'm being interrupted right now while I'm writing this.) Jeez, it's not even 7:30 AM yet and I'm already being hit with problems I am expected to solve. Gotta go. I'll finish this later, but just suffice it to say that I've shed a lot of tears over this event.

lytha said...

i've been thinking about this blog entry (this incident) all day and even talking to colleagues about it. it's shocking and horrible and i'm praying for the victims' families. although people might say that shootings can happen in any country, statistically the chances of this happening are so much lower in germany. like you said about the gun shop, well, there aren't gun shops here. you can get a gun if you really want one, but in general people don't have them and don't want them. this topic comes up a lot because germans are curious about american violence that they see on tv/movies. if my sister and her family lived here, she would not have to homeschool her children for their own safety.

lytha said...

even so, i love my country fiercely and a part of me dreams every day about being back there. i am such a proud american. a few things are better here, but my home is the PNW, between the mountains and the saltwater, with moss and ferns and constant rain.

i cannot imagine never living there again.

Cut-N-Jump said...

I had seen the articles and everything online about this, but didn't know you were that close! I can only imagine how scary it had to be for those involved. Premonitions like yours are creepy, I just hope nothing like that ever happens again, but in this world- anything is possible. Moving is only a temprorary 'fix'. At least where you are- you know what you are dealing with. Sort of. If that makes any sense.

achieve1dream said...

Wow, that's really awful. And so scary . . . :(