January 28, 2011

Cassandra Complex: Challenger

There's really not much point to this post.  This is just my recollection of the Challenger explosion.  It's not a pleasant recollection, and in the scheme of things, it's completely unimportant.

But this is my memory of the day, as I lived it.

I was living in Lake Worth, Florida.  I remember the TV was on, the shuttle launch was delayed again, because of the cold.  I remember I was running around getting ready for work, when they interviewed some of Christa McAuliffe's students about the upcoming launch.  The students were all disappointed that it hadn't launched yet.

I remember my snarky comment to the tube:  "You'll like it less when the damned thing explodes because they lifted off in the cold, dumb-ass."

It was two hours before the explosion.

There was about five minutes where I swear I was having a vision of the shuttle exploding.  "SHIT!  I have to call them!"  But as I realized that 1. I had no idea who to talk to about stopping the launch, and 2. who the hell would believe me and 3. I was being ridiculous, there was no way I could possible know the shuttle was going to explode.

Besides, I was going to be late for work; the experts surely wouldn't launch it if it wasn't safe; they'd already held the launch.  Of course they'd wait until it was safe.   Like anyone would listen to an assistant manager at Rent-America "rent to own" about visions of disaster.

When I got to work, all the TVs were tuned into the launch that still hadn't happened.  Still too cold.  It was my turn to run to the bank to do the deposit.  I drove down US1 to Barnett Bank (which would be my own bank until they held a cash deposit back for five days), and took care of business.  It was a gorgeous day; crystal blue sky, with not a cloud in it.  I'd only been living in Florida four months, so what's cold to me now was simply invigorating.

Finishing at the bank, I turned north onto US1, and saw a strange cloud on the horizon.  Just another sudden Florida thunderhead, I thought.  Kinda freaky, the way it's forked.

As I walked back into the store, my manager looked at me from the desk in the back.  His eyes were really, really wide.

"Did you see it?" he asked.

"See what?"

"The shuttle just blew up!"

I could not believe it.  Then the image replayed on all 58 color televisions in the store.

I remember walking up to one of the consoles, to see it larger.  At one point, I pointed to a corner of the expanding cloud and said "That's the cabin, right there.  I think they were alive, then."  The news said otherwise, but months later they found evidence that the crew had indeed survived the initial blast.

There was no way I could have known it would actually explode, but I did.

There was no way I could have known the cabin remained partially intact, but I did.

And despite the reassuring words of NASA officials, I'm certain that most of the crew didn't die until the cabin hit the ocean.  That's not at all reassuring or comforting.

Don't forget, I didn't believe me, either.

1 comment:

  1. Kinda like when I told a buddy of mine that the best way Nirvana could keep its legacy is if Kurt Cobain blew his brains out. 2 weeks later...

    Ok. Maybe not quite the same thing.