I have tried a number of times to write this week. Each time I get up and leave it or close my laptop and walk away. What was going to be a goofy post on Tuesday morning, could not be.
The words have not come easy this week. I have tried to write sounding professional but that obviously is not working. I am just going to spit this out in the hopes that it makes senses and it doesn’t sound like I am looking for sympathy. I am not. I am hoping this helps me just a little.
At 4:15 Monday morning friends/coworkers and I climbed into our buses and headed to Boston. Our biggest concern was getting lost and not making it to Boston Common on time. We cracked jokes, did silly things, and complained. Most of us had been up since 1:30 a.m. sleep alluding us because of the excitement.
The day was perfect. Sun shining, music playing, and a big party atmosphere. People from all over the world had traveled to the starting line on our buses. It feels good. We are a part of something special. We are part of the party.
After returning to Boston, with a police escort, we parked our buses on Boylston St. We had hours to wait until runners came to collect their belongings. During that time we were free to walk around town and inside the barricades. We went for coffee, we hunted for bathrooms, and we joked with the Boston P.D. about where to buy cigarettes and alcohol.
The alcohol was a joke but we still had some smokers in our group and they needed a store. We walked up two streets to a 7 Eleven, stuffed money into a pink and purple bra worn by two male MIT students and cut through an alley to get back to our buses. It’s all part of Marathon Monday in Boston Massachusetts.
It was after 2:00 p.m. and we sat on a bus eating lunch and joking with the young volunteers. The conversations, as always, went from one subject to another. Milano Cookies, Genoa Salami, tattoos, and one of the driver’s pointy ears on her green card. We watched runners come by and admittedly were in awe of them. It was a good day.
Until we heard what sounded like a cannon and the bus shook. All conversation stopped and seconds later we heard another boom. I was the only one in the group that has done this duty for the Marathon, but we all knew something was wrong. Something had gone very wrong. The conversation briefly turned to North Korea, but we didn’t sit and talk for long.
We could see smoke and the red lights of emergency vehicles. The finish line was between 1/4 and 1/2 mile straight up Boylston St. What had happened? People near us were not panicked. Runners were still collecting their belongings. No one had any information. We decided to take a walk and see if we could get any. We headed towards the smoke.
We only got a couple hundred feet when the police and volunteers started running towards us yelling RUN! GO! GET OUT!
It is a feeling I will never be able to explain. I lost sight of my friends, time moved in slow motion, and my mind went to my husband, mother, and children. The thought of never making it home again was first on my mind. I might die here. I might never have another chance to tell my husband I love him.
We were told to get on the other side of the buses and everyone ran to squeeze through the space left between them. Everyone was trying to get through at the same time. There wasn’t room, people were pushing, one of my friends was pushed into the metal barricade and got stuck. Another fell and had to roll under a bus to stop from being trampled.
I squeezed through on two feet, but realized once through I was trapped. I couldn’t break through the barricade and I couldn’t climb over. I was trapped and thought for sure I was going to die. I don’t know why I kept moving to my right, but I did, and someone had broken the barricade and we were able to escape and continue running.
Bombs were mentioned but I don’t know by who or when. It could have been the police when they were yelling, I honestly don’t know. It all happened within a matter of minutes, but it seemed like hours. It all became a blur.
That all happened a little before 3:00 p.m. I know this because it was right before they shut down cell service. We started out five and now were only four. One of us was missing. We yelling and called her name. She was not in the intersection. Somehow I was able to dial her number. She was safe, hiding in between her bus and a news truck. We ran, we found her, we hugged, we held tight.
Our day did not end there however. About an hour and a half later we were again faced with the Boston Police Department giving us orders to evacuate. They came in a wave, banging on our buses, yelling GET OUT! EVERYONE GO! GET OUT NOW!
For the next hour we were corralled behind a police barricade while they swept our buses for explosives. Just us bus drivers trying to keep each other strong and calm. We didn’t know if we would be allowed out of the city, we didn’t know if we wanted to drive out and through the tunnels. We didn’t know if we would ever do this event again. We didn’t know anything except we came into this city together and we would go home together.
Which we did. At approximately 6:00 p.m. we were allowed back to our buses and told to move out. We made it home around 8:30 Monday night. All of us physically ok, but mentally a mess.
I go through the day just fine then something happens and I tear up, or like today completely break down at the Post Office. I will be alright, my friends will be alright, and we will stick together again. Just like we did in Boston on Marathon Monday.