I don't think I'm alone when I say that I'll always remember the day that two of Outlook's most long-standing buildings burnt straight to the ground; Easter Monday, April 17, 2017.
It's one of those wild, chaotic events that have a habit of gripping an entire community, with some people looking for answers and the rest of them shaking their heads in disbelief that something as unpredictable as a raging fire could lay claim to a pair of buildings and create such a gap in the downtown business corridor.
Then again, much like fire, life itself is unpredictable. You never know what could happen tomorrow, next week, next month or next year. Not every day is a guarantee, and there's no promise of tomorrow in this world we live in. Sorry to seem like such a downer, but I'm only stating the obvious truth.
Events such as the recent fire in Outlook makes you take stock of what you'd do if you were in that kind of a situation; maybe as the owner of the buildings, or a neighboring business owner indirectly affected by the flames.
It also has a way of making you think back to other times of chaos in your life; sort of a 'Where were you when THIS happened?' scenario. It could be something less personal and more world-based like the 9/11 attacks, or it could be some other crisis situation that actually might affect you.
Me, personally? I'll always remember the time back when I was in Grade 12, and Outlook High School actually had a bomb scare.
It was in the springtime; I wanna say either late April or early May, but I remember it was gorgeous sunny weather (not like this recent blanket of slushy snow we got....get your act together, Mother Nature) and I think it was on a Friday. My friends and I were hanging out in the lunch room (AKA Mrs. Stephenson's room) during the noon hour, just shooting the breeze, when suddenly we heard an announcement over the intercom that every student was to drop whatever they were doing, pack up their lockers and immediately exit the school.
My buddies and I proceeded to exchange glances that can only be described as 'What the hell?', but we cooperated and went outside, where we saw everybody else in our grade.
Now at this point, nobody really knew anything just yet. We were just a bunch of teenagers following orders from our superiors, meaning the grownups. However, the odd vibe surrounding this mysterious scenario compelled me to document it, and it just so happened that at the time, I was shooting footage for a school documentary as part of an extra-credit work project.
So with that, just before I joined my friends in heading out the east door of the school, I packed everything up in my locker, but then took my video camera out. A story’s a story, people!
Perhaps this event was some form of precursor or a foreshadowing of my job just a few years later?
As we were all gathered outside, we were told to walk over to the rink and just sit in the main bleachers, where we would get further information. At this point, word had leaked down that someone had called in a bomb threat. The reactions of students were varied, if I remember right; some were laughing, some seemed happy at the thought of getting the rest of the day off, and some were visibly shocked and worried.
I guess you never really know how you might react to such a crisis until you get thrown smack dab in the middle of it.
My friends and I were just confused, and more than likely in some state of denial about this supposed “bomb” that may or may not have been planted in our school.
We all got to the rink, and everyone was seated in the bleachers, exchanging glances and having murmured chats about what was going on, how bad was the situation, and of course, was it real? Who called in the threat?
Our teachers soon clued us in, telling us that someone had called the school and said there was an explosive device. Of course, when any public building gets a phone call like that, procedures have to be followed to the T and everything going on at the time had to come to an abrupt halt to ensure the safety of everyone.
Well, it turned out in the end that there was no bomb, so the classrooms, lockers and hallways of OHS were safe for another day. We were soon allowed to leave the rink after getting the okay from teachers, and everyone hung out just outside the rink as arrangements were made for students to be picked up. And wouldn’t you know it, my own mom was the first parent to show up for her kids. I was of course teased about the fact that, “Hey Derek, your mummy’s here to pick you up!” My only retort was, “Yeah, but at least I get to go home now!”
To my knowledge, it was never discovered who called in the bomb threat, but I’ve had my suspicions over the years. Just one of those mysteries that’ll never be truly solved, I suppose.
Crisis, chaos and unpredictability are much more possible in the world we live in today. I’ve come to learn that what truly makes us human is how we react to any of it.
For this week, that’s been the Ruttle Report.