Yesterday afternoon, I squeezed in a little bit of holiday shopping and went to the Walmart (yes, I’m embarrassed by that fact) and West Towne Mall located over here on Madison’s west side. I headed out after 3PM, got home, checked my Twitter timeline, and noticed someone retweeted some rather alarming news:
The first thing I thought of was… well, this:
The next thing I thought of was, “Oh, dear. At least one person may be concerned about me; they may be thinking I was there.” Well, I was nowhere near the east side yesterday, and I’ll talk about that later in this post. But for the unfamiliar, East Towne Mall and West Towne Mall are different locales. Sure, they are in the same city and are operated by the same company and and have similar names and (for sure) the same or similar merchants, but they’re definitely different places. (Sure, East Towne’s concourses are carpeted and West Towne’s aren’t, but that’s neither here nor there).
And even though it was serious situation for sure, (the mall was closed for several hours afterward), I didn’t think of it too much. Heck, none of the TV stations around here thought of breaking into programming to scream “BREAKING NEWS!”
I did see a more detailed report online this morning that fleshed out all the details that a boatload of tweets couldn’t encapsulate. (Never underestimate the intelligence that detailed, more measured reportage can have compared to 140-character bursts. Most of the time, anyway.) Well, what did that report state? Here was the headline:
Shoppers panic as 19-year-old shot during dispute among teens inside East Towne Mall
An eye-catching headline, for sure, especially the “Shoppers panic” lead. Well, the report did indicate some panic. Here was one example from the story:
Shoppers fled in a panic, some running into stores, with some dropping shopping bags, purses and other items.
[name redacted], an employee at Gordman’s, said shoppers ran into his store and some hid under garment racks.
He said the store offered some shoppers refuge in the employee break room, and the store received direction from the mall to close and evacuate.
So, yeah, I guess it shouldn’t be surprising that people would freak out when shots are fired. I know I would panic at least a little bit, but then I would want to go in and ask to help out anyone who may have been hurt (Male Mode Me has some first aid training).
I suppose, too, everyone who was there not only had a story to tell but also an opinion. Also from the story:
[name, job title, and location redacted] was in line with his son… and daughter-in law… so his 19-month-old grandson… could see Santa Claus for the first time when the shooting took place.
[name redacted] said he heard two shots near the Hallmark store and later saw what he described as a shell casing from a .32 caliber weapon.
“This is cuckoo,” [name redacted] said as he stood outside the food court entrance a few hours after the incident.
For the record, that witness was identified in the story as a Vietnam veteran, which I presume was germane to his ability to identify the caliber of bullet. (No jokes or diatribes about ‘Murica in this post; this is not the time or place for that.)
So, how did it get so, to borrow that witness’s word, “cuckoo”? The story indicates that there was a dispute involving a group of young people, one of which presumably had been packing heat… which, for better or worse, you can do in some public places in Wisconsin. I believe East Towne and West Towne are among the places that do not permit firearms on their premises, posting signs that explicitly express that sentiment (which they can do under the aforementioned law). I won’t get wade into the controversy over guns here (an all-too-touchy subject for sure), but this makes one wish that disputes like the one that may have preceded Saturday’s unfortunate incident would never devolve into violence.
Now, as I noted above, I was nowhere near East Towne Mall yesterday, or on the east side of Madison at all. But when I saw that first tweet above, I started thinking that someone on my Twitter timeline was thinking, “Oh, no, I hope Allison wasn’t there.” So, I thought it best to tweet a confirmation.
But an incident like this did get me to thinking… What if I was in such a situation, caught among violence in a public spot? And what if I was a direct witness to the incident? And what’s more, what if I was presenting myself as Allison?
And it’s thoughts like that that make me realize… oh, my God, Allison is indeed only an alias. Not many may notice or at least care that I’m really a male, but if I get into something serious that involves the police… and the gendarmes want a word with me… oh, my God, they’re going to want to know my real identity.
“So, Mr. [name redacted], can you please tell us what happened? And we need to know what your business is here. And do you know any of these people?”
Well, I do indeed hope that I will never wind up in a situation like that, as Allison or otherwise. But I do understand that, well, I have to be a responsible person and answer anything the authorities ask of me. I just hope that they treat me with dignity, whether I’m en femme or not. I also hope they can leave my name(s) out of the public record if at all possible. I hate to think that their report will consist of, “Said name gentleman was wearing a wig, blouse, and skirt and was minding his business,” etc.