Walking to work this morning I noticed the flags at half-mast. My first thought was that I somehow missed the news of a major disaster, another 9/11, a tsunami, or Mt. Rainier erupting. I started glancing at the front of the newspaper boxes, looking for a headline tragic enough to lower the city’s flags. By the time I actually got to my desk and started going through my e-mail inbox, I’d completely forgotten about the flags and the potential apocalypse and went about my hectic morning. Nobody else ever mentioned a tragedy.
So I just got back from grabbing lunch. I saw the flags again and remembered to check this time. It’s actually pretty sad that it took me so long to figure it out. Nothing on CNN, nothing on the NY Times site… Finally I found this story on the Seattle Times website, with the unfortunate URL “copdrown”. I don’t know what’s more depressing: that it took me so long to find the actual reason for mourning; or that my first thought was that it must be some international disaster, and that the possibility of an important local figure dying didn’t even occur to me.
On a (possibly) lighter note, this all ties in to a lunchtime conversation I had with Meloknee yesterday. When is it OK to start making jokes about tragic events? I don’t think 9/11 jokes will ever be OK because of all the extra patriotic baggage that’s been attached to the event. What about bomb in airport jokes? Does the terrorist association have a stranglehold over this potential bag o’ funny? Tsunami jokes? Is the mourning period shorter for international, mass-desctruction events than it is for smaller-scale national events? I’ve heard a a number of Challenger disaster jokes, which I guess means 9 years is long enough for an accident such as that.