No one can deny that since the attacks in Paris a couple of weeks ago, walking around in Europe isn’t the same. Taking a simple commute to work or into a city you’re visiting for the first time makes you slightly more anxious, or you wonder what the latest situation is in Syria and what country the terrorists are hiding in.
My day began in Salford Quays, more specifically MediaCity, as I have training with a Northern England news channel. I’m based at home in the Isle of Man, which in comparison to Manchester is tiny in every aspect.
I have a sore foot at the moment which may sound trivial, but without going into detail I’m on antibiotics and have dressings and stitches on one big toe to haul around in wet weather. This morning it had swelled to the size of a golf ball and breakfast was eaten and I checked out of the hotel. I left my suitcase behind the counter to collect at the end of the day before Leeds later that night and began the hobble to work.
This might seem like an insignificant day so far, but a number of things happened which at the time seemed important but after one main event of the day, didn’t.
Firstly, after meeting Kate in Piccadilly for lunch, the tram I got back to Salford Quays decided not to go to MediaCity all of a sudden, meaning I was very, very late back and the soft slip on shoes I was wearing were drenched, meaning my golf ball toe was too. I arrived back in the office feeling flummoxed and useless, incomplete without the ability to move around on two feet and not wincing.
Secondly, I had paid a deposit of £50 to the hotel I stayed at for one night for ‘any extras, for security measures’. I didn’t buy any extras, and after being told this morning my bank would receive the money later that day, I didn’t see any magically appear in my account.
These are such trivial things, being late and money, compared to serious things like what happened next.
As I was watching a work mate edit on camera software, about ten minutes later a siren blared out from speakers in front. It wasn’t like a standard fire alarm, it was like a ‘something really serious is happening and we need to go’ sound. A recorded voiceover announced that an ‘incident’ had been reported in the building, and to wait for further announcement.
About another ten minutes passed of this, slightly panicked as people were saying that this alarm wasn’t a familiar one. Not familiar? Panic started to approach in my mind, and suddenly the alarm sound changed to a quicker ‘get out of here’ blare with the voice ordering us to evacuate the nearest exit.
Shaking, I grabbed my bag, laptop and coat, half wondering if this was some kind of terrorist threat or just a fire. But why incident? Why not an alarm familiar to those who worked there? I tried to avoid eye contact with people for fear of them seeing my scared face, ashamed that I was from somewhere so small for the first time in my life and frightened that there were people inside hurt, or worse.
I know it sounds like I was overreacting, but it really did feel like something horrible was going to, or had, happened. I followed people down the stairs, crying silently because I just wanted to go home, speak to my family on the phone and tell them I was alright.
Turns out when we got to ground level in the courtyard, we were told it was a false alarm. Windows had been opened in the university building next door and I felt embarrassed for worrying myself and thinking the worst. Trudging back in, I felt relieved but I still wanted to go home, my inner alarm bells had reached full capacity and drained me.
I carried on through the day, but wavered towards the end and now I’m in Leeds. I can’t seem to relax properly, despite the evacuation being false, my empathy for those who are in constant fear in areas of the world where terrorist attacks have occoured has only grown stronger than it was already.
We can’t let these horrible people, who disguise their evil behind religion, change the way Europeans live day-to-day. I don’t know the answer but something has gone wrong somewhere down the line during these terrorists’ lives and are set on their objective to destroy a free and open society in European countries – countries which have their own problems and sufferings too.
I wanted to write about how I felt today because in this century, at any moment our lives can be at risk in a number a of ways. Accidents, illnesses, terror, freak weather, earthquakes, abuse, anything can affect us no matter where we are.
The only thing you have control of in life is how you deal with everything thrown at you. I shouldn’t have been embarrassed about being from somewhere small. I shouldn’t have paid 50 pounds for what was clearly a way of making me pay when work had paid for my stay. But I’ll learn from the experiences and somewhere in the future, life will throw me a chocolate I won’t expect, but I’ll eat it.