Not One, Not Two, But Three

I was chatting with a friend who is very refreshing to speak to at the moment.

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Anyway…the subject of propaganda came up. I made the comment that one thing I have seen since the start of this year is how rapidly news really does spread these days. I think I knew that via technology news could spread quickly. But now it really does spread quickly. Perhaps that is partly because people have been deliberately making sure they watch the news because they feel they need to be aware of what is going on.

This year news, anxiety, panic, uncertainty, outrage and more have spread like wildfire. I am partly glad I have watched less and less of the news recently….work is leaving me with no energy for the news.

Then we started talking about numbers. Apparently three can be used as confirmation or for emphasis, to firmly establish something. Anyway…yes, we had a fascinating discussion. I think my friend is very wise.

In such a short space of time…so much has changed. Everyone is wondering…what next? I think there are some people who are still harping on about when things are going to go back to “normal”. Such a hard to define word at the moment.

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I am going to keep my eyes focused on what matters most! The human family will learn how to live the way we were designed. We will learn to take care of our planet, it’s creatures and each other, so that we all thrive!

“Many are the plans in a man’s heart,

But the purpose of our Creator is what will prevail” – Prov 19:21

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Protecting 15,000 People In 8 Minutes

I have had lots of thoughts and feelings in reaction to some of the misleading and damaging opinions published online since the world started to realize the enormity of the challenge posed by the …you know. Where to even begin on a subject this big? I can tell already that this is going to have to be a multi-part, multi-post effort.

nusMy priority of late has been keeping healthy so I can be effective at work, and keeping in touch with my loved ones to check they are all alright.

If you know anything about me, I hope you know that I love people, I love the multicultural beautiful human family. I respect that others may have beliefs that are very precious to them, and I would not want to be disrespectful to anyone. So I am going to try to be very careful in what I say.

I am prompted to write this because I have seen some wild assertions recently. They can be very hurtful. There are two aspects to this. One is the political side, the other is the religious side. You may have seen the reports this week that the World Health Organisation have warned against politicising the …you know. It’s not helpful. Regardless of political leanings, we are all in this together.

Concerts, Audience, Spectators, LightsIt does not seem appropriate at this time. I think I have mentioned in the past that I worked as a steward at arenas and stadiums. We had regular training to prepare us for dangerous scenarios that would require us to direct the public in the case of an emergency. What to do in the case of a fire, a bomb-scare, a child abductor, or perpetrators of violent acts was included. In the years I worked as a steward, at least twice I had to help to conduct large scale evacuations due to bomb scares.

At one event, we were able to evacuate an audience of 15,000 safely in eight minutes. Eight minutes! Why? Essentially because we understood the seriousness of the situation, we remained calm, we gave clear instructions, and the public responded to the direction and obeyed. During those eight minutes, it was no time to bicker or squabble.

oiudafAfterwards, there were some issues that had to be addressed. They had to take a serious look at the evacuation procedures and identify what had not worked and potentially could have been dangerous. One big issue was that we received inaccurate information. We were told it was a Code Yellow – which means fire. In response we told people to leave their belongings and exit immediately. That meant we had a huge number of potential “suspicious packages” within the arena. That caused other challenges later.

In addition, other issues came to light. One of which was the traffic lights outside of the arena. In the scenario of an emergency evacuation, the traffic lights were supposed to turn red for traffic and green for pedestrians, in order to allow thousands of people to cross the road and distance themselves from the arena. If people could not continuously cross the road, it could slow down the exit of people from the arena. However, the traffic lights did not do what we had been told at countless training sessions that they would do. We were very fortunate. Our stewards took the initiative and stopped the traffic by standing in the road to allow pedestrians to continue to cross.

shdfaiThere are some really really hard things you have to accept when you train to be a steward. Really hard. One of the hardest to accept is that in the scenario of a large-scale evacuation, you have to let able-bodied people leave first, and those who use wheelchairs are to leave last. When you first hear that at your training it is a shock. It is so hard to swallow. The reason for it is that you have to get as many people out as quickly as possible. But it seems barbaric when you first hear it. Of course the stewards also stay until last of all. So, we would make sure we did everything we could to make sure everyone was evacuated safely. But speed is essential, so things have to happen in an order that allows for a speedy and safe evacuation. You can’t slow down the flow of the departure by blocking corridors and concourses.

It is not easy to be in a role with that much responsibility on your shoulders. We had repeated training sessions to make sure we understood that our actions as stewards could be absolutely pivotal in keeping people safe.

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Those eight minutes when we had to evacuate 15,000 people were crucial. It was not a time for arguing or complaining. It was not a time to question our training. It was not a time to start cursing the managers or blaming whoever programmed the evacuation procedures. Later all issues were identified and corrected. But when you are in the middle of a crisis, you just get on with keeping people safe in a calm cooperative spirit.

heasWe are currently in the middle of a challenge that poses a serious threat to life. There are people who are anxious and frightened. Now is the time to be calm and obey instructions designed for your safety and the safety of others. The whole plan is to save as many lives as possible.

I have mentioned to several of my colleagues that since this all began, it is my training as a steward that keeps coming back into my mind. Stay calm and cool headed. Communicate instructions clearly without raising panic. The public need to cooperate. They need to cooperate. If someone starts pushing through crowds determined to go and retrieve their child who they allowed to sit with another family, or rushing into the danger zone to find their aunt who is sitting in a section set aside for wheelchairs, it could be disastrous. It’s incredibly hard when you are a steward and a member of the audience starts to yell at you because you won’t allow them to go running into the cordoned off area so that they can find their kid.

oiwdfsdI am looking at those who are in positions of responsibility and authority now. I am politically neutral. I work with international charities that transcend borders. Most of them are not stupid. (You can think whatever you like, but as I am not going to get involved in petty human politics I am not going to shame and blame any imperfect rulers.) Most of they are not unfeeling. They are in an extremely demanding and difficult role. They have to issue directions in order to protect as many people as possible. They have to accept the responsibility that their decisions are having on people’s livelihoods, their mental and emotional wellbeing, and many other factors.

You can think what you like about them in your head. But now…now is the time to be promoting cooperation and respect for the direction we have received. Now is the time to prioritise on saving lives and bolstering the health service rather than undermining their voice. Why? To help our families and communities endure what is clearly a long term challenge. I am sure there will be endless criticism and analysis later on. But now we need do what we have been asked and help those around us to stay calm, not panic, and ensure they are safe.

cools.pngIn this international challenge, we want to protect our human family. I honestly believe that like a member of the 15,000 audience that we evacuated in eight minutes (that included over 300 members of the audience who were using wheelchairs), it is time to stay calm, obey instructions and trust that those making decisions designed to protect people. They are not idiots. They are imperfect. They are in a very challenging role. We are in a crucial stage when we just need to follow instructions designed to save lives.

Then…if you really want to…you can get back on your political high horse.

But can we save lives first please?

NOW THIS WAS PART ONE…IN PART TWO I AM GOING TO TAKE US ALL THE WAY BACK TO A CRISIS THAT OCCURED IN ANCIENT EGYPT.

 

 

Panic After A Pickle With A Portuguese Man

It was not only in the accommodation I was living in that I was having challenges that came from men who did not seem to realize how uncomfortable they made me. I published this post a while ago, but it describes an incident that occurred during the time I was in my first “tied-accommodation” post and facing almost daily harassment:

I had a little incident with a man today.  I was in a bit of a pickle and I panicked.  Now, I am wondering if I over-reacted, and I feel bad.  You can judge me…it’s alright.  I am aware that I did not handle the situation perfectly.

I had just jumped off the tube when a stranger brushed against me and then immediately apologized.  I replied, “No problem”.  As we came down the steps he was looking at me and smiling.  When we reached the end of the steps, he put his arm forward and touched my arm and said “this way”.  I was just a tiny bit freaked out.  He would not know why I have reason to react awkwardly to a stranger touching me.  I looked at him and clearly told him “no thanks”.  I very deliberately walked the opposite way straight into the newsagents within the station, WHSmith, even though I didn’t need to buy anything.

WHSmith

Once I was in WHSmith, I looked at a few items I sometimes pick up on my travels.  I decided there was no point buying anything right there and hoped now I could just carry on with my journey.  As I was leaving the shop, he was standing there in front of me.  I may have been imagining it, but he seemed to be watching me.  He smiled at me and said “Hi”.  I said “Hi” and walked out with a very quick pace.  He had not done anything terribly invasive, but for some reason, he had triggered my panic buttons.

I walked through the barriers and then did a U-turn to head up to the busiest part of the street even though that is not where I was headed.  I just needed to know there were other people around.  I had panic running up and down my spine telling me not to go anywhere isolated.  I was walking so quickly that my silly little shoes kept sliding off my feet.  He ran up beside me and he asked me if he could have some shelter under my umbrella.  I gave him a look which I thought said “not on your nelly!” which he did not seem to interpret correctly.  (Now I was starting to feel trapped).  He asked me to walk with him towards the bus station.  I told him I was going the opposite way.  He said that was fine, but he carried on walking with me.

portuguese tartsHe told me he is from Portugal and asked me if I had ever been and would I like to go.  (I have many Portuguese friends and know a few Portuguese expressions but did not tell him anything.  Even my sister Mandy has learnt enough Portuguese to have conversations about art and order a few pastéis de nata when we are in town together.  We even have Portuguese connections through marriage.  Our Helen married a very handsome Portuguese man and then when his best friend came over from Portugal for the wedding he met one of my best friends Laura…and it was happily ever after for them too.)  I was not liking the attention from a complete stranger so I did not respond to his questions.

He decided to ask me where I was from.  I said Liverpool – that is where I amUmbrella from, although I have not lived there for over ten years.  He then put one of his hands on my umbrella very firmly.  He asked my name.  I was starting to feel very threatened.  His grip on the handle of my umbrella was so strong.  (Maybe he wanted the umbrella and was not really interested in me.)

I told him that I knew he was just being friendly, but that I was not comfortable sharing any more information about myself, because he was a complete stranger.  When he objected, I just confirmed it was a no saying, “I don’t mean to be rude and please don’t take it personally, but this is the world we live in today”.  He told me that although we were strangers he would like to get to know me.  He asked if he could take me for something to drink or eat.  I cried “no thank you, I am headed to meet friends”.

He asked me if I was going shopping.  I was starting to get a bit frazzled.  He offered to hold my umbrella for us so I could rest my arm.  Again, I declined, “thank you but I am going inside now anyway.”  My umbrella has a button in the handle that pulls it in, so I clicked it.  He said he would like to talk to me until I met my friends and maybe we could go for a drink another time.  He then asked me my name again.  I felt like crying, “I am sorry, but I have told you I don’t feel comfortable simply because you are a stranger.”

I saw two security guards in big hi-vis yellow coats and ran towards them.  I didn’t say anything to them.  I just stood beside them until the man who had been walking with me backed off.

I know I have a very good reason to be nervous around men I don’t know…but do you think I was rude???  Do you think I over-reacted?

There is not much I can do about it now…I am just feeling a bit unkind.  Yet at the time I really wanted to get away from him and he did not seem to pick up on the vibes I was sending out.  I thought I was making it very clear that it was a no!  I was saying no and he was not listening.  He just made me feel more and more uncomfortable.

I know some women would not have minded, they perhaps would not have felt as threatened as I did.  It’s just after that night in the park, I have panic buttons I did not have before.  He triggered them all.  I ended up feeling like a hedgehog or porcupine with all my sharp needles bristling!  It is funny because my lovely Goldfinch was a complete stranger when I met him, but he did not make me feel uncomfortable.  He certainly did not trigger any of my panic buttons.  Aaaah, Goldfinch…I forgot I was going to tell you about the lovely day we had together on Wednesday.

I am not going to let myself brew on this one.  Perhaps the Portuguese stranger was a lovely man.  I did not feel comfortable though.  For whatever reason, I had every right to say “No thank you!”, just as I did with my workmate in “Icky Sticky”.

Hi-Vis

What a shame this is the world we live in.  I really don’t like feeling as if I have been rude to someone, but in this world, there are times when you have to be on the defence, cautious and you have to flee to a point of safety.  When you are in a pickle that makes you panic…just run to safety.  That is one of the reasons hi-vis jackets were created…for moments when a stranger crosses the line and we turn into damsels in distress.

(Thanks hi-vis jacket designers…these are my go-to whenever I have a panic moment!)

The Last Person I Would Want To Be Stuck On A Cruise With…And I Will Tell You Exactly Why!

sea catMy sister Mandy is married to a lovely man with a lovely mum.  She is lovely.  Not only is she lovely, she is also a Super-Mum (as I revealed in a post named “Would You Like To Meet The In-Laws?”)

However, she has a problem.  It is a problem that I find difficult to comprehend.  I try to be understanding, sympathetic, compassionate, but frankly it baffles me!  My sister’s mother-in-law is a PANICKER!  In one particular situation she loses all sense of reason and her behaviour is incredibly unpredictable.  Do not be out at sea with this Super-Mum – who knows what might happen?

I first realized this when we took a trip to the Isle-Of-Man (or Mann, I am rather confused about whether it is supposed to have one or two “N”s because everyone seems to think differently.)  I have made that trip many times because we had great friends over there and we thought it a lovely escape for a weekend.

seasickThe Irish Sea can be a rough crossing indeed.  I don’t suffer too much myself with sea-sickness, but I have been on crossings that have been so turbulent that almost everyone had to be out on deck with severe regrets that they had breakfast before they left the house!

But, one thing that has always reassured me when I arrived at Liverpool to set off for the crossing to Douglas, is that the Sea-Cat can only sail when the water is reasonably calm.  If it is too choppy, they have to use a different kind of vessel.  The Sea-Cat (I am no expert in ocean vessels) kind of skims across the surface of the water.  It can only do that when the sea is reasonably calm.  I have been on journeys that were changed due to weather conditions.  Our two hour Sea-Cat crossing was changed to a four hour trip on the “Ben-Me-Cree” which took us to Heysham instead.  Then we had to travel by coach down to Liverpool.  That boat the “Ben-Me-Cree”, it seemed to bob around like a cork in water and we felt the heaving and swaying dramatically.

So turning up at Liverpool Docks on a sunny day with the faintest of breezes and learning the Sea-Cat was definitely running I was a happy bunny.  I like travelling with a group of friends and family members.  We have fun!  This was the first time I had traveled with my brother-in-law’s Super-mum.  She is a lovely lady…but almost from the start she started to show signs of anxiety that I had never seen in her before.

stressedIt became much worse.  There are times when the Sea-Cat seems to slam down onto the water quite forcefully.  She started to become alarmed to an extent I had never seen before.  We all kept telling her that was normal.  But she was not able to accept our reassurances.  She started running around and screaming in panic shouting “We are going to sink!”

Her own family were trying to retrain her, but they were unsuccessful.  A couple of the crew on-board became involved because she was so frantic.  Other passengers just stared in amazement.  I was bewildered.  How could a woman who was normally perfectly rational and capable deteriorate so quickly into this abysmal state of panic?

Her angst only dissipated when we were safe on dry land.  When she had fully recovered she apologised to everyone who had been worried by her state of panic.  Then she told us it was not the first time, or the worst time!  It seems that travelling by water is not advisable in her case.  When they were on vacation in Spain they went out on a hover-croft with a large group of fellow tourists.  The stampede of panic she had caused after she became convinced that the hover-craft had been damaged and they were in danger of imminent cap-sizing was so severe, that she had been formally told by the company running the Hover-craft tours that she would not be allowed back again.

hovercraft

I do love her as a member of our extended family, and I don’t want to be unkind about her, but I swear, she is the last person on earth I would go on a cruise with!