Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Reality Check: Hostages Taken at Virginia Post Office

A man in a wheelchair is, as I write this, holding at least 5 people hostage in the Wytheville, Virginia Post Office.  We know he has a gun, and he has what he claims is 5 pounds of C-4 explosive strapped to his chest.  The only demand he has made thus far, at least as far as police have reported, is for pizza.

This story especially caught my eye because I have been joking around all afternoon, giving people my latest "hot tip" -- on December 23, do not attempt to mail a package at the Inman Square Post Office in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  As you might guess, I myself attempted this feat this morning.  The post office in question is very small, and it was very busy this morning, as were, probably, most post offices in the United States, including the one in Wytheville.

Wytheville has a population of just 8,500 people.  This is not a bustling metropolis, nor is it a place anyone would pick as a high profile terrorist target.  I bring this up, because most of us, rightly or wrongly, have an idea in the back of our minds that, because terrorists with major government agendas tend to pick very public, large places to attack, that no one ever attacks small towns. 

This is, if you think about it, obviously false.  While it may be true that people with grandiose agendas pick places like the World Trade Center, the Oklahoma City Federal Building, Fort Hood, or even the Holocaust Museum, there are numerous examples of people with smaller agendas, or just pure mental illness and no agenda at all, who strike in much more random places.  Those places are often small.

I often write about how trauma affects us, even from a distance, because we can make a personal connection to something about the event.  Certain types of incidents, locations, motives, or any number of factors that can make us identify just that little bit more it takes to go from thinking an event is horrible to really taking it personally.  For me, today, it is knowing that I mailed a package in a crowded post office today, and knowing that it is just random chance that there wasn't a gunman in a wheelchair with explosives coming after me.


Meet the Quarterback

My Photo
Naomi Zikmund-Fisher
is a clinical social worker, former school Principal and a Crisis Consultant for schools and community organizations. You can learn more about her at
View my complete profile

Subscribe via email

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Quarterback for Kindle

Blog Archive