I yelled “Stop! Pull over and stop. Stop now.” Not having any idea what had just happened, my friend questioned me instead of pulling over and stopping, so again, I repeated, “Just stop! We have to be sure she’s OK.” Now looking in her rear-view mirror, she saw the blue vehicle get out of the way of traffic then drive on in the opposite direction. Whew. Then, my friend points out how crazy some people get and overreact, and I thought she was talking about me. Yeah, I got her rattled, but she was talking about the driver that spun and ended up going back the way she came, not me.
For me, it was one of those things where I go into crisis mode and act on instincts. I wanted to be sure that driver was OK, and that was a very powerful, driving force in those few short moments that the whole thing took to happen.
The same sort of thing happened again today, only this time, I was in my office with someone who came in. This woman started to say to me right away, “Hey, did you hear about what’s going on in ____ School? There’s a gang war going on there with 1 gun and 7 knives. One of my kids goes to that school.” She was level-headed and not freaking out about it, so I asked a few questions about where and what, and it started to sound like a freaking crisis situation to me.
Did the school know about it? What was being done? Is it all under control? Was anyone hurt? Did the parents know? Was everyone OK?
And I went into crisis mode. I know of one person that would either have heard about it already and would be able to tell me for certain what happened, or he would be the one to get right to the people who needed to know about something like that happening, just in case it was building up to a school massacre or something like that.
I called my editor at the newspaper.
“Hey, did you hear about a gang war going on at the school with a gun and 7 knives…?” And before he could answer me, my supervisor came into my office and told me to get off the phone, that I was not a reporter while on the state’s time. So, I hung up. But, I was still rattled, and still not sure what to do, and totally helpless to do anything with my wings clipped like that.
Not long after, I got an email about it and I have to attend a meeting Tuesday morning. I violated policy by calling the paper about something a client had told me. My ass is grass.
Later, I called my editor back and apologized for hanging up on him. He told me that he had heard about many students Twittering and Facebooking threats to bring guns and knives to school and battling it out. He said when he called the school, they knew nothing about it, nothing was going on and nothing would go on. He had known about the rumors since early morning, hours before I called. Heavy sigh of relief. Those kids and parents were OK.
It didn’t take long for the weight of the situation to hit home. While I do not regret my quick action, it will probably cost me my job.
When I called, my friend helped me by saying, “Well, you could have just prevented another Columbine!” True, all I was thinking about was those kids and their frantic parents, but my own thinking didn’t take things that far. God forbid!
So, I throw it to you. Did I overreact in either situation? How would you have handled it? Got any advice for me and the meeting?
I’m so depressed…