Make yourself as small as possible

You’ll pay for this someday

Make yourself as small as possible

This piece appears in my book Welcome to Hell World: Dispatches from the American Dystopia.

Paul Gillespie was editing photos in the newsroom in June of 2018 when he heard the gunshots so he dove under the nearest desk and curled up as small as he could he said. “I was curled up, trying not to breathe, trying not to make a sound, and he shot people all around me,” he told The Baltimore Sun. A colleague yelled no! and he heard a shot and then another colleague said something although he didn’t say what that was but it was probably something like please no and then he heard another shot.

Making yourself as small as you can is a natural instinct for lots of animals in the wild when they’re hiding from predators. It’s like trying to disappear for the animals which is what we are ourselves and sometimes I think if you could make yourself so small that no one would be able to see you at all that would be a kind of freedom. The guy who talked about hell being other people didn’t mean that dealing with their shit was a pain in the ass he meant that we are only conscious we exist because we know we are perceived by others and that our knowledge of ourselves is built upon how they view us. There’s a version of us that lives in everyone else who looks at us and that version of us is trapped in there and there’s little we can do to free them. At least I think that’s what he meant I’m way too dumb to understand philosophy anymore

Gillespie’s colleague Phil Davis a crime reporter for the Capital Gazette in Annapolis where the people were being shot to death was hiding under a desk as well and he live-tweeted what he thought might be his last moments alive. “There is nothing more terrifying than hearing multiple people get shot while you’re under your desk and then hear the gunman reload,” he posted which is a brave thing to do to post when you’re about to be killed. It also makes sense because if we want people to know what we’re thinking when we’re watching TV or eating a nice sandwich we also probably want them to know what we’re thinking when we’re hiding from a man with a gun.

Five people were killed that day by the man with the gun named Jared Ramos who had brought a defamation suit against the paper for reporting on him accurately and later had sent threatening letters and emails to the paper although the people he was actually mad at weren’t even there anymore. They say sometimes that we shouldn’t repeat the names of shooters on the news or talk about their lives because it might encourage others who want to become famous but to be honest there are so many of them every day now who could ever keep track.

Five people were killed that day by the man with the gun named Jared Ramos but that wasn’t the only bad thing to happen because the reporters getting massacred also had a negative impact on Tribune Publishing’s bottom line. The company, which was known as tronc until recently when they realized that was a stupid fucking name owns a number of newspapers including The New York Daily News, the Chicago Tribune, The Hartford Courant, and The Baltimore Sun. They said this week that they were being forced to offer buyouts to a number of employees at their various newspapers because they had had a bad quarter reporting $4.2 million in losses and one of the reasons for that they said in a release was that those reporters had went and got themselves killed.

“Despite the industry headwinds and the after-effects of the Capital Gazette tragedy, we performed well in the quarter and continue to establish the infrastructure for long-term success,” the company’s CEO Justin Dearborn said. “The decline is primarily due to higher newsprint pricing related to the recently rescinded tariffs, as well as the financial impact from the Capital Gazette tragedy,” he said and he made over $8 million in 2016 so you have got to assume he knows what he’s talking about when it comes to how to weigh the cost of things.

I watched a video just now of a person driving through the wreckage of fires that ravaged northern California in November of 2018 and it showed dozens of abandoned and destroyed cars and a tractor trailer left in the middle of the road and a burned out school bus. That town in particular was called Paradise, California, which is . . . a lot in terms of what the name of a place might be. It doesn’t look much different than what the end of the world looks like when you think about what the end of the world might look like. For a lot of people it actually was the end of the world because around a hundred people died in the fires there and elsewhere in California around the same time. Four people were found dead in their cars in Paradise and one was found just outside of their car and I don’t want to think about what it is like to die like that.

At a beach in Southern California where another fire was going on people gathered with their horses and other animals to wait out the fire at a safe distance because they didn’t know what else to do. One thing people and animals have in common is that they know to run away from fire and gunshots.

Not too far from that fire a guy whose name I already forget murdered a dozen people inside of a bar where there were listening to country music and having a nice time. It’s been reported that he posted to social media before and during the attack speculating about how people would try to ascertain his mental state and they reported he said that he wasn’t insane just bored which is why he had gone and killed everyone.

Something else it’s been reported he posted is this: "I hope people call me insane,” and then some laughing emojis. “Wouldn't that just be a big ball of irony? Yeah.. I'm insane, but the only thing you people do after these shootings is 'hopes and prayers'.. or 'keep you in my thoughts'... every time... and wonder why these keep happening..." and that is chilling to read but he’s also not wrong about the last part is he.

I don’t really know what hell is but I don’t think it’s a place where bad things happen to people randomly such as natural disasters and death because that’s just what the regular world is. I think it’s probably more accurate to say it’s a place where bad things happen because someone wanted them to happen to you or just let them happen out of negligence and indifference. Where bad things happen and they didn’t have to but your life was less important to someone else than what they thought they had to gain.