Saturday, 8 April 2017

The day after it happened

I feel surreal. Still.

When I woke up today it was the same old Sweden, but yet something is different. Maybe it's because I was so close. Maybe something hasn't changed and it's just the way I feel.

Fact remains that the hijacked lorry crashed right into the building, the department store, where I work, where we have our tourist information desk. Less than an hour before it happened my shift had ended and afterwards I bought a big coffee and sat on the square nearby looking at the people. Around 2.30pm I left and walked the 5-10 minutes to the central station to get on my train home. Got on the train at 2.45, the crash happened at 2.50-ish. The train was late leaving the station. I didn't think nothing of it, they gave us the ordinary reasons of train queue and people running on the tracks. It's only afterwards that I started thinking that maybe we were late leaving because of what happened. Possibly I was on the last train allowed to leave the central station.

I didn't check my phone until after I got off the train and was waiting for the bus. My phone had exploded with notifications as well as texts from my parents and my sister and a missed call from my boss. It didn't feel real. What had actually happened didn't hit me until after I had gotten home. All my thoughts and feelings whirled around inside without me being able to get a grip of anything. I went from being terrified of the thought that if I had decided to take a walk before going home I would've been in the middle of it, to worrying about my co-workers who were there, to irrationally thinking about the people whose bags were in our luggage storage and how they would get them out of there. I tried to call my boss to know if the girl who'd taken over after my shift was alright, but the phone lines were overladen and I couldn't get through. When she finally got through to me and could tell me that they were all ok I felt like a huge weight had been lifted. Everyone I knew was ok.

After that I started following the news. Read about our government and parliament and royal family being brought to a safe place and the parliament building being closed down. Read about terrified people trying to get on trains out from Stockholm only to have the trains be locked down. Read about the metro being completely closed down and about police telling people to stay out of the city. Saw tasteless pictures of run-over people being spread on the internet and a picture of the burning lorry lodged in the department store's wall.
(Picture from Aftonbladet)

And through all of this horror I saw and read about people's solidarity. Shops and restaurants stayed open to become refuges for people who couldn't get home. Schools, campuses and churches opened up to accommodate stranded people. People who opened their homes to strangers. Preschools that stayed open to care for the children until their parents could get there. Even a Facebook post from a supermarket telling parents to encourage their children to call them or go there to get food if their parents couldn't get home. And the fact that the French shut off the lights of the Eiffel Tower in support. It made me feel warm and happy despite everything horrible that had to happen for people to show solidarity. Check out the tag #openstockholm on Twitter.

The lorry drove full speed at the largest pedestrian shopping street in the Swedish capital of Stockholm. It could've been so much worse. The death toll has stayed at four even over the night. It's horrible, but it could've been so much worse and that's what I'm holding on to.

Today is the day after and I was supposed to be at work today. At that same department store. But because of what happened the place is closed today. Probably tomorrow too, but the only thought in my head today is how it'll feel to go back there to work on Monday.

Today I woke up to seeing condoleances from practically every leader in the Western world. I also woke up to seeing hundreds of tweets, blog entries, Facebook posts, and articles about how they won't break us, how we are united against them and we are not afraid.


  1. Didn't realize you were so close to it. Glad you're ok. God, this needs to stop.


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