More than useless

If the .nz part of the domain of this site hasn't already given away my location, I am in New Zealand. I'm not, however, in Christchurch where much of this country's and some of the world's attentions are focused due to the destructive earthquake that took place there earlier this week.

Also, I don't really know anybody in Christchurch. I have been there before, several years ago, but the 2 degrees rule (where anybody living in NZ is only 2 degrees of separation away from anybody else in NZ thanks in part to the size of our country) is the only way I can make any connection to the city:

  • My landlord told me last night that his daughter was just driving away from her house when the quake struck. That was lucky for her because her house is now in ruins.
  • And several friends have brothers/sisters or other friends there who for the most part have been confirmed as alive and well.

Despite my lack of connections, I find myself drawn to the latest news coming out of there: when I get home from work I start watching the 6 o'clock news (even though both our major news channels have been doing nearly-all-day coverage), eating dinner through it and the extended coverage that follows. I eventually manage to pull myself away and do something else, only to grab a bit of the late night news before I go to sleep, whereupon I bid Christchurch goodnight. Then, in the morning, instead of my usual ritual of turning on my Xbox to play some music while I get ready for work, I tune in to the breakfast shows for an update on events that happened through the night.

It's all that I hear about, and understandably so: with the death toll now over 100 and the number of missing still at 200+, it's easily the country's worst disaster.

I wasn't like this in the beginning. When the news first reached me via Twitter and other work mates after returning from my lunch break, I said, "What happened to Christchurch? Another earthquake?" I'm not a person who rolls their eyes (it's something I actually have to think about doing to accomplish), but when I think back on my reaction I always imagine me doing so.

Now, I've been using my Twitter and Facebook accounts to retweet/forward information (particularly to friends overseas), I'm dressed in as much #redandblack as I can muster (which isn't really a lot), and I'm 2 clicks away from forwarding a large chunk of my last paycheck to the national Red Cross.

Yet I still feel particularly useless from where I sit: here I watch and read about people doing all they can to save lives and all I'm doing is absorbing information and writing about it on this blog during work hours. I'm too far away to help with the various volunteer efforts, I'm hesitant to donate blood because the news is saying they need it while the blood service is saying they don't (I also stopped donating some years ago when, despite my very high iron levels (180+ on some scale I can't seem to locate right now), I discovered that every time I donate I fall to the ground and can't get up for the next couple of minutes. But hey, if they need it, I can suffer being on the ground for a few).

It's restlessness, I know. Even if I did manage to find my way into Christchurch, I have no appreciable skills to contribute to the effort, and will likely be more of a hindrance than a help. I mean, what good is a computer programmer when you don't have electricity?

On that note, with all the support and 'we're behind you' efforts/messages being largely organized through the internet, I hope that the people of Christchurch know how worried about them the rest of New Zealand really is.

If anything, this whole ordeal has made me want to fast-track those First Aid training courses I've been trying to get work to sponsor me for since I came up to them with the idea last year. I'm a little useless where I am now, but it'll help should I ever find myself in a bad situation. When that happens, at least I'll be ready.