By now, most of you have read or seen what happened in Toronto Monday afternoon. This is one reason why there was no Perfect Moment yesterday, and why there isn’t one today. However, I feel the need to reflect on it a bit.
First and foremost, I and everyone I know and care about is fine. I was, at worst, slightly inconvenienced and had to walk the two subway stations that were put out of service. It was a pleasant day and the walk did me no harm. The takedown of the suspect happened in front of the building where one of my students is staying, but she reported that it only meant that she couldn’t use the front entrance.
This tragedy affected many people and I wish my sincerest condolences to the families of the people who lost their lives, my wishes for a speedy recovery for the injured, and a thank you to the brave and dedicated people who responded.
The reason I chose to reflect is something that one of my students explained to me. He said, “My sister knew before anyone sent me any information. She called and asked how I was.” Several other students confirmed that they received calls and texts from their family members before any alerts came across their phones. They felt that somehow, someway, their phones should have alerted them before their parents did.
It should be remembered that I am an ESL teacher and all of my students are visiting Canada to study English. It is only rarely that I have French-speaking Canadian students. As for not getting alerts; my students don’t have any Canadian news Apps, but they think that their “smart phones” should be smart enough to alert them.
It is no surprise to me that their parents and other family members called them. The school also sent out email to update them on the situation and make sure that they were okay (though many thought it was spam and didn’t check it out until later) In my school’s history, we have had to deal with SARS, the blackout, 911 (though not happening here, the maps broadcast on international TV made some parents worry).
I reflect upon this because, in addition to the aforementioned disasters, I was living in Japan during the Great Hanshin Earthquake and was rattled awake in the early morning. My family desperately wondered how I was and had trouble getting in touch with me. The maps shown on TV seemed really close to where I lived. This was pre-internet (pre-commercially available internet) and the phone lines jammed up rather quickly. Getting information was not as easy as it is now. They were relieved to know that I was fine. This was despite the terrible images of the fire.
So, I have some sympathy for my students and their worried families. Fortunately, all of them reported being able to get in touch with their families, calming them down, and soothing their worries pretty quickly. I sometimes complain about their addiction to their phones, but this is not one of those times.