It’s been about a day since I’ve been home from a short vacation, so I’ve mostly been sleeping and not really doing much productive. I was in San Francisco last weekend, and I was with my family staying at a hotel just overlooking the airport in San Francisco. Somehow, we lucked out and got an ”executive suite” on one of the top floors. While normally the thick San Francisco fog obscures the bay, the warm summer weather permitted a rather scenic view. From our room, you could see the airplanes taking off and landing. It seemed one would land every few minutes or so, right above the bay, and it was an interesting sight the first few times. After you watched it for a bit though, it became rather boring and mundane, and after dark, even bothersome, as the noise made it hard to sleep.
Now, if you aren’t aware, we were staying at this hotel the same weekend that a Korean jet liner crashed on the runway, smashing its tail on the edge of the runway after a botched landing.
If you have any inkling for dramatic situations, you are probably picturing the view of an airplane crashing down on a runway, then going up in flames. You’d probably guess that I would just be sitting in my hotel room, watching the planes land, to all of a sudden see jet hit the runway wrong and skid 1000 feet or so.
But that’s actually wrong. The truth is, I wasn’t even in the hotel at the time the airplane crashed. I was in San Francisco’s Chinatown.
Now, I could go on about Chinatown and my affection for its cheaply made, overpriced, and often illegal goods, its people, its food, its general atmosphere, etc., but I digress. What truly sticks with me, at least this trip, is the moment the plane crashed.
As with many touristy places, San Francisco’s Chinatown is absolutely filled with foreigners. Not just Asians, but tons of others, like Germans and French too. Within minutes of the plane crashing, people, mainly foreigners, swarmed a television set outside a restaurant. The main street we walk along through Chinatown is often crowded, but at this one moment, perhaps a hundred people circled to view this one news broadcast. At least five people there were translating the broadcast for others. The jump to conclusions was incredible. In a post 9/11 world, ideas of a terrorist attack seemed, at least in some of their minds, not too far fetched, and the ambiguity of the newscast (largely presented that way to retain viewers) did not help. Fortunately, online news outlets presented a fuller picture, and through checking phones and other online resources, a better understanding was made. The day ended up very busy, so we ended up spending the day in Chinatown.
Back at the hotel, the atmosphere was frantic. Many passengers had to reschedule flights, and the hotel lobby was filled with travelers unable to immediately book a new flight. From the rooftop of the hotel, you could view some of what remained. though other than a damaged plane and a few response vehicles, there wasn’t much to see. The fires had been long gone, and the airport had resumed some activity on at least a few of their runways, so the flow of airplanes continued.
Despite the unusually high volume of people, certain public areas were relatively quiet. Nobody was at the pool, the gym, or the lounge, and my brother and I took the opportunity to use these facilities. At the very end of the day, my father, my brother and I had dinner at the hotel, while we watched continued news coverage of the crash. Going to sleep that night was rather easy - I was already quite tired - and after watching a few minutes of some unmemorable movie on HBO (it might have been Cowboys and Aliens, though I don’t know, we don’t have HBO unless were at a hotel), I feel asleep.
Now, this is the part of the story I’d wrap it up, give a conclusion, maybe even a sort of “Lessons Learned” sort of thing. But I don’t have anything like that. I haven’t gone over to think about it too much or gather any sort of meaningful observations. I haven’t looked up much about the crash, other than what I read in the newspaper this morning, and I’m not even proofreading this, really. I just haven’t really written anything since the school year ended, and felt like writing about something that might have ended up meaningful. It hasn’t really, though, and perhaps it’ll just end up as a mildly interesting but otherwise pointless post. Maybe one person might find it interesting. Maybe not. But I digress.