Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A Sprint from A Marathon

Obviously, my blog is my attempt at a comedic look at my hockey adventures and uniform geekery.

But today I must veer away from that.

Based on the events of yesterday, I wanted to record what I, my wife and some of  my dear friends experienced firsthand as we made our way across town after the Red Sox game ended. I have no idea why I want a permanent record of it, I just feel compelled to do it for some reason. Maybe it's cathartic. Maybe it's therapeutic. I just don't know.

So after the Sox game our group made our way out of the bleachers (section 39) and out gate C onto Lansdowne Street. Obviously, it was a sea of humanity, with the street full of people and lines queued up with throngs of people trying to get into the adjacent bars for postgame festivities. There was a huge pack of people on motorcycles trying to make their way through the crowds, revving their engines as if it might get people to move out of the way (it didn't).

We made it down Ipswich Street, past the Muddy River and took a right up the embankment to the Charlesgate overpass. We crossed over the Pike and Newbury Street and down the ramp to Comm. Ave where we were able to watch a bit of the marathon as the runners approached the final mile to the finish line.

At this point, life was good. The sun was out. It was warm. The Sox won on a walkoff double by Mike Napoli to win 3-2 and sweep a 3 game series with the Rays. We were taking in the Marathon. And we were making our way back to Canal Street to get to the Fours to pregame before the Bruins-Senators game. In short, it was what Patriot's Day is all about and what it Patriot's Day should be.

We continued down Comm. Ave., along the marathon route, to Mass. Ave. This is the one location where we would be able to cross over the marathon (the route follows an underpass here) and get to the other side of Comm. Ave., allowing us to get to the other side of the city. We were walking up Comm. Ave., getting spread out a bit when we crossed Dartmouth Street. A Boston Fire Department ladder truck was coming down the street when it drove by us.


At first, I thought the fire truck hit a pothole. But it seemed too loud for that.


A second loud blast.

It wasn't the fire truck.  I turned back and saw a small plume of white smoke emanating from somewhere near Copley Square.  Then I saw my wife and Pete running towards Heather and me. Jen said a bomb just went off. I shook my head in disbelief. No fucking way.

Maybe it was a manhole explosion (those tend to happen in Boston, sadly). Maybe it was an electrical transformer explosion (those happen too, sadly).

Whatever the reason, people were running out of Copley Square. My friend Mike had just come from there to meet up with us for the rest of the afternoon. He was safe, thankfully, and now with us.

We all went to our phones.  Cell signals were gone. Too many people jamming the antennas. But my Twitter feed worked. Because so much of the Boston TV and print media were stationed in Copley for the marathon, they were able to provide a continuous stream of information (and a lot of speculation as well).  Reports of two explosions with mass chaos. The marathon was being stopped short of the finish line. A triage center was being set up at the medical tent.

All the while, the sound of sirens permeated the air. Ambulances, police cars, fire trucks. Flashing lights everywhere. It was surreal. And it was real.

I read a tweet saying to watch out for mailboxes as the bombs may have been stashed in some. Knowing our route back to the Garden area involved passing by the State House, City Hall and a couple of Federal buildings, I insisted that we cut through the back of Beacon Hill instead and avoid possible targets.  Internally, I was freaking out. It's hard not to think of 9/11 at a time like that. And there were so many unsecured areas.

Sarah was trying to get in touch with her friend who was running and couldn't get through. Jen was trying to get in touch with her brother who was working across from Fenway. Amy was trying to get in touch with her daughter who left the game early to pick up her in-laws from Logan. Nothing. No signals.

And it was weird.  We had people walking with us who were doing the same thing as us - getting updates via social media. But there were plenty of tourists milling about the Common who had no clue of what just transpired. Marathon runners in their insulated wraps walking back to Copley presumably to pick up their belongings and meet up with friends and family who had no phones on them so they were out of the loop.

It was so very weird.

We got down to Cambridge Street and crossed over by Mass. General Hospital.  Given the number of ambulances out and about helping with the trauma, the area was eerily quiet. The ambulances hadn't arrived yet and people were still milling about.

We crossed through the West End apartment complex and out by the Tip O'Neill Federal Building on Causeway Street where the building was on complete lockdown with guards stationed around the perimeter of the building and security vehicles parked out front.

We made it over to the Fours, still in total shock.  I saw one of the doormen at the Fours and told him something to the effect of  "normally I'd get in here and start pregaming, but right now I'm getting the fuck out of Dodge".  People in Bruins gear were starting to make their way into the bars, but I had a hard time believing the Bruins would have a game that night.  How could they secure the building? And more importantly, how could they ever justify diverting public emergency services and resources away from Copley Square at a time like this. No way was that game getting played.  Just then, Tyler Seguin drove by in his Maserati, presumably on his way to the Garden parking lot.

Mike and Sarah were headed back west of the city, but with the Green line shut down, they had nowhere to go. So they bunkered down at the Fours for a while.  Stacie needed to get back to Woburn (she had come into town on the commuter rail), so Jen and I offered her a ride.  Amy needed to get back to Quincy, so Heather and Pete gave her a ride.  And so we all made our separate ways.

In the car, I put on 98.5, my local sports station of choice, knowing full well they'd be offering up news coverage instead.  I was surprised to hear not a simulcast of their AM news station counterpart, but a stream of their TV coverage with Jack Williams.

In one last bit of safety/security/overthinking I decided to avoid the Zakim Bridge and took the Washington Street bridge to Charlestown instead. I just didn't want to put myslef in harms way, as preposterous as that sounds.  Along 93 north we kept seeing state police cars, both marked and unmarked racing south towards the city.

We dropped Stacie off and made our way home.  I climbed into bed with my iPad and iPhone and flipped on the TV to WBZ for continuing coverage.  Jen eventually went out to pick up Dana at daycare.  Thankfully, all of my friends in the city were safe and accounted for. I put up posts of Facebook and Twitter letting everyone know we we safe and sound as well. Well, physically, at least.  Mentally I was all over the place.

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