The New Abnormal

Before the U2 concert in New Orleans, a sea of people swarmed around the Superdome. The large crowd pushed its way toward the entrances and security. It was humanity’s version of a kicked-over ant hill — men, women and children alike buzzed around with excitement. The lines for security had cause choke points, causing people to spill out on the plaza.

I got an uneasy feeling.  What if someone started shooting?  It was a classic soft target.

If it had just been me, I probably wouldn’t’ have had my Spideysense go off. But my family was there. I was reponsible for their safety, not just my own.  I looked around and tried to concoct an escape plan. Once I thought I had one, I closed my eyes, took a breath and eased into the security line.  We, of course, made it home safely.

A week later, Amy (my beautiful bride) and I were sitting in Thalia Mara Hall, waiting for the band The Avett Brothers to play.  Once again, my mind got the best of me as I scoped out the room for escape routes.  There was an exit to my left.  It would be the easiest way out. But what if there was a second shooter waiting outside? Once again, I took a deep breath, calmed myself and enjoyed an amazing show.  And yes, we once again made it home safely.

Sunday night in Las Vegas, 59 concert goers (at this writing) did not make it home safely.  A crazed lunatic decided to lock himself into his 32nd-floor Mandalay Bay hotel room with a cache of weapons that would be envy of a small army.  He began to fire his automatic weapons into a sea of humanity who had just began to enjoy a Jason Aldean concert.  With a sickening rat-tat-tat-tat that sounded more like Afghanistan than America, the slaughter began.  Over 20,000 people found themselves sitting ducks in a killing field.  On Monday, I listened to so many survivors tell their death-defying stories. One thing they had common, there was a randomness to their survival.  To the front of them, a woman would be shot in the head. Next to them, a man in the back. Panic ensued as blood soaked the ground that had previously been a place of joy and entertainment.

To quote Bernie Taulpin and Elton John, “It’s funny how one insect could damage so much grain.”

According to an article in Business Insider, your odds of dying in a mass shooting (four or more dying) are 1 in 15,325.  Those are normally very good odds (you risk a 1 and 7 change of dying of heart disease)  But mass shootings are happening more often. And they are getting more brutal.  Our repeated “Thoughts and prayers” are turning into thoughts of “what I would do if someone starting shooting?” and prayers pleading “please let me survive”

We can’t sit at home because of a handful of shooters. But we now have to do like I did at the concerts.  We look around. We assess the threat. We make escape plans in our heads. We teach our children what to do in case of a shooting like we were taught “stop, drop and roll”for fire safely. Do we run or do we shelter in place? Our lives have changed forever.

We now sit in a public place and wonder if some nut will start firing.

It’s the new abnormal.

About Marshall Ramsey