Staying Alert When Shit Happens

If you’ve followed the news at all in the past few days, you might have heard of the Austin Bomber. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, let me give you a brief history.

Over the month of March, Austin has been rocked by a series of explosions. The first three were package bombs left on front porches. Then Sunday night, there was a bomb set off by a trip wire. Yesterday morning (Tuesday morning) there was an explosion north of San Antonio at a FedEx facility. Police quickly determined it was related, and then overnight last night (Tuesday night into Wednesday morning), APD closed in on a suspect and pursued him. The suspect later killed himself with a bomb in his own car.

While it’s nice to know that this man can no longer actively cause terror in the city, the police say there may be a few more bombs that have not been detonated.

Either way, what I really want to talk about is how to stay alert, but still try to stay calm during long-term situations like this. Now, these are of course based solely on my situation over the last 48-72 hours.

1. Be Smart, Notice Your Surroundings

Given that we had packages left on doorsteps with no labels, APD was big on making sure people didn’t pick up packages that looked suspicious. But it goes beyond this. After Sunday evening, I found myself staring at the ground while I walked outside. No way was I going to trip over a wire and set off an explosion. Now I live in an apartment complex, but I was also keeping an eye out for people who seemed out of place. That’s hard to do with an apartment complex, especially when people are moving in and out all the time.

In the end, that comes down to listening to your gut. If someone is looking suspicious, and it’s bugging you, act on it. Call 911 (If we’re talking about something as big as a serial bomber).

2. Follow Local News

This story was picked up by national news outlets like Fox News, CNN, and The New York Times, just to name a few. But when it came down to it, I was paying attention to the local TV stations because they know Austin. Especially yesterday when there were multiple explosions, some bombs found that didn’t go off, and nothing made sense? The local stations did a stellar job on their reporting. Things were moving fast and they kept up well.

3. Talk to your friends and family

Monday night, after a long twenty-four hours and a bad day at work, I ended up talking to my mom on the phone about all of this. Sunday night was the night the bomber changed his tactics. Monday was scary. We all talked about it at work, trying to figure out what exactly was going on. There was no rhyme or reason to the explosions, but talking about it with friends and family meant we weren’t just keeping it all internalized.

I’ve learned (the hard way) that staying quiet about your feelings and not talking to anyone never ends well.

4. You have to keep going on with your life

Despite my anxiety (and the anxiety of so many here in Austin), I personally was never in any danger. But the fear of not knowing when the next one was going to happen, that can be pretty impactful. At the end of the day though, you have to keep living life. We can’t let the fear cripple us long-term, even if we break down temporarily.

At the end of the day, I’m glad it’s over. This week has been stressful just to watch as an Austinite. Knowing that lives are changed permanently because of this one guy, it breaks my heart. Lives were lost and some are still recovering from injuries. There aren’t enough words to give for those who were hurt from all of this. There really isn’t, but my heart hurts for them.