2X I Was Standing Next to the Man Who Was Shot
September 3, 2007
“I was standing next the man who was shot outside the Portland building.”
One of my wife’s best friends, S, has a habit of starting dinner conversations with a shocking and disconcerting revelation. Last year, when S and her husband, B, came to Washington, in their search for a place to build a retirement home, they took us out to dinner at a favorite Italian restaurant, and after we asked her about her childhood in Sri Lanka, she spoke of seeing people burned to death in religious mob violence as a child.
After the European nuns at the Catholic school where S was being educated as a child had been withdrawn from Sri Lanka, S’ father (Catholic, but a “rascal”) had decided that a country plunging into civil war was too dangerous a place for raising a young daughter, so he had sent S to live with an older sister going to college in America.
This year, at the same restaurant, S was telling about how she and a co-worker returning from lunch one day abruptly found themselves in the middle of a downtown Portland shooting, apparently involving a drug deal gone bad.
“You always think you are going to handle the situation better than you do,” she continued.
“What I actually did was freeze. My friend tried to hide behind me, but then she decided I wasn’t big enough to provide enough protection, so she ran away.”
“In my experience, I have to practice something several times before I am able to handle it properly,” I said. “After the third time I was next to somebody being shot, I would know what to do. However, as I have not had such an experience once, I would not handle the situation any better than you did.
“What happened to the man who got shot?” I continued with morbid curiosity.
“He survived” she said. We all felt better on learning of this happy outcome. It would be a real bummer if the person who gets shot standing next to you dies from his injuries.