Chad K. Park's Blog

9, January 2012

08 January 2012, one year to the day

Filed under: Uncategorized — chadkpark @ 8:40 am

I want my representative back.

I admit I didn’t vote for her in the primaries.  I admit I didn’t agree with her on everything.  I admit that if I had known she would be at *my* safeway, that I might have roused my butt from slumber and asked her a few questions.  None of that matters.  She’s still my duly elected official and I want her back.

Say what you want about gun control.  I have enjoyed shooting many different weapons.  I don’t have a problem with people who feel the same.  I blew holes in clay pigeons, soda cans, apples, an old bike helmet, a TV set, and dozens of pieces of paper.  I say he didn’t need to have a gun.  He shouldn’t have had one.  Prove me wrong.

On that day, 08 January 2011, I was doing my usual Saturday morning things.  Hustling breakfast into the (then) nine-year-old ninja and getting him ready for Capoeira.  “The kid”, a.k.a. the 20-something daughter had already headed to work.  I dropped off the young one to do some kicking at Capo and headed off to the open gym at wildcat crossfit.  Our usual Sat. includes Mom calling and meeting up with boy and myself for a magnificent repast at some Tucsonan lunchery.  However, that Saturdays’ call had a voice that sounded like my wife when she called me on 9/11.  I was shocked at the news.  I switched the radio to the news channel and it was everywhere.  Shooting, death, Safeway at Oracle and Ina.  I didn’t get any of it.  I talked to my wife.  We decided to meet at Yoshimatsu.  It was a somber lunch.  Eventually we had heard that Rep. Giffords was alive and made it to the hospital.  Somehow it helped despite the number of dead and wounded.  It even helped dealing with the poor kid who was there.

The thing is, that’s *my* safeway.  I go there 5-6 times a week.  Hell, we used to ride our bikes there on the weekends as a family and pick up groceries.  It’s only about a mile away.  I know the night manager – we talk about our favorite beers *all* the time.  I realized that I might have been there.  I might have gone just to say ‘hi’ or to chastise her for one of her recent votes.  I also realized that “the kid” may have stopped there for some snackages before heading off to work.  She worked up around Oracle & Magee then and that Safeway was a great place to pick up a protein bar and a coffee.  We were lucky.  We were all OK.  But not really.  At least not mentally.

I remember the memorial outside.  I had to force myself to return.  There were people browsing the photos, posters and flowers laid out in the front entrance.  It was *huge*.  There were flowers everywhere.  The florist inside the store was nearly empty with flowers.  She had less flowers than on Valentine’s day – an odd comparison, I admit.  I had to walk like a robot to get past them and get some damn milk.  After a while it got easier.  It became my safeway again.  I eventually had a chance to talk to my pal at the store.  His story was epic.  He wasn’t there at the time.  He usually has the mornings off and was trying to sleep in, but the phone kept ringing.  After 10 or so unanswered calls his girlfriend gets up and answers one and tells him, ‘there’s something wrong at your store.’  He hears the news, finds out that he can’t find out anything and races in.  The FBI and police are everywhere.  He tries to keep the employees busy but there are no customers so they just work on restocking the shelves.  He said it was unbelievably surreal.  He told me that the higher ups in Safeway management had offered free consulting / psych. counseling services for all the employees there.  He told me about some of his people who had been working there that morning.  We talked for about 1/2 an hour and somehow, as disturbing as the conversation was, I felt better.

One day, I was in the checkout line and I saw a poster.  It was yellow with a bunch of handwritten messages from a school.  I read some of the kids’ comments.  They were clearly from a high school.  I figured it was from the local one, in the catalina foothills school district which polished “the kid”.  I looked and read, and the comments were deep and heartfelt.  I started to tear up again.  I got to the bottom and I saw where it was really from.

That poster came from the high school students of Columbine.


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