Behka Talks about After the Mark Twain Apartment Fire
Well, first of all, I'd like to thank everyone for reading my last post about this. This is going to be hopefully a much more uplifting post.
As the Mark Twain building was on fire, there were many people standing around the area. Some were people who lived there, some were people who cared for people who lived there, some were news outlets, some were firefighters, some were Red Cross, some were Sedalia Police, and some were..... well, I'll call them "rubberneckers".
When I looked around to see who was there, some people I recognized from the building would come up to me occasionally and we'd try to comfort each other. Sometimes with humor, sometimes with optimism, sometimes with just a hug. After a couple of hours, though, I couldn't stay any longer. I went to get my car so I could drive to my sister's house. On the way I saw another Mark Twain resident start jogging up. She lived in the building with her Grandmother. I saw the look of panic on her face, and I told her immediately that her Grandma was okay. I had seen her, she was standing by the parking garage with some others.
Since then, I haven't seen too many of the others from the building. I have, though, been inundated with people trying to help. I'm sure more will come around, and I'm sure there are others who have helped others, but.... I just wanted to take a second to personally thank those who have reached out to me. I think the people who read this website might want to know about the kindness of the people they walk by in the store or drive by on the road.
Of course my family were the first people there. My father has been a rock for me my entire life, and this was just another example of his quiet heroism. My cousin Andrea and her mother Tammy were instantly on the path to try to find me help. They were calling local services and doing all the footwork for me so I could snap out of shock. My sister and her family took me in immediately, doing everything they could to calm me down and try to reassure me.
The next morning, I got a call on my cell phone from Rinni, with Auto Glass Express. On the 5 p.m. hour on 105.7, she and I have done a "Crazy News" segment for a year and some change. We had never actually met, and only spoken on the phone. She called, and asked me if I was alright. I don't remember what I said, but she asked me where I was and told me to stay there for about a half an hour. I did, and there she was at the back door with my father and I - presenting me a check and a hug. It even brought my quite stoic father to tears when she left, hugging me and telling me, "People love you. There are good people in the world".
The group here at Townsquare Media was the next to jump in. They all offered all sorts of help in every way they could. They pooled some money, they offered to get me furniture, clothes, dishes, whatever I needed. Part of the reason I came back to work so early (that Friday) is because of these people. They're kind, they're smart, they're fun, and I needed to come back to get some kind of normalcy in my life. I knew that even if I had nothing to do, I could come to work.
I am quite sorry that I cannot remember her name, but when I went to go get my deposit back at the Furnell Offices, a lady from the St Paul's Church took me aside and asked me what I needed. She asked about sizes and if I had a place to go. She had already started orchestrating this big event at St Paul's for the Tenants. It was so soon after the fact, I had no idea that an actual group would be able to do something for us. It was another instance of a stranger offering me help, unconditionally.
Lifepointe Church also immediately offered their services. I went to a blood drive they had that Friday with the Red Cross and it was very comforting to know that these people, who didn't even know me, were ready to help, no matter what.
New 2 You clothing store was a first day boon. I went to the location that's behind Walgreens and Brenda immediately helped me find some clothes to wear. At the time all I had was the dress I wore to work that day - I had borrowed some jeans and a shirt from my sister. Brenda definitely was helpful and told me to go see her sister at the other location, too. She thew in extra stuff that she wasn't sure I needed but knew I would want, like perfume and some lotion, and some fancy shampoo and conditioners. It was comforting to smell like something other than sweat and soap, I'll tell you that much. I guess it's the little things you don't think of that go a long way.
Specialty Sportswear also was a big help to me in the clothing department. They told me to come by the store and take whatever I needed. The guys helped me with some shirts for work, some casual clothes, and even a jacket and warmer stuff for fall and winter.
Wilson, Toeller and Associates are the accountants I go to every year to do my taxes. I had no idea they even really knew who I was, much less where I lived or where I worked. I guess I just assumed that I would get lost in a numbers shuffle. Well, I wasn't. They got a lovely card for me, all of them signed it, and they gave me some money to help me out. Stephanie also answered a couple of quick questions for me - about whether I'd have to claim these donations for my tax return. It was something I was thinking I'd better get right, and if I was going to document them, I'd better do it now. That's another kind way to help, offering information.
Fringe LLC Salon is a great place where I had an opening day remote not too long ago. The owner of the salon is an old childhood friend of mine, Susan McCandless (although back then she was Susie LeMaire). She sent me a message through Facebook and offered me a table and some chairs from her salon, and whatever samples she could give me to make showering a little more pleasant.
Dale Malone said some very lovely things on Facebook after my post. He had already started a fundraiser for the tenants, and I'm pretty sure he didn't even know I was one of them til the post. He came in to talk to Bruce about the event, and gave me a great big bear hug. He's always helping out when he can, I know, and it was nice to see he was so dedicated to it.
Kevin Walker, who took the pictures of the fire that people examined for faces, called the station and offered me a television and lots of love. I know he meant no harm or distress with the pictures, and it is always good to talk to someone who knows how important your pets can be.
A woman contacted me through Facebook after having read my initial post about the fire. Her name is Angela Roquet Mothersbaugh. While I'm sure a lot of us know the Mothersbaugh name (I know I had an English teacher by that name, very sweet lady), I didn't know her personally. Without any provocation, she contacted me and offered me a desk and a desktop computer from her office.
Many old acquaintances, friends, and co-workers contacted me and offered everything from a helpful ear to a place to stay and everything in between. I could hardly believe these people that I thought had forgotten completely about me, cared. Just to know people were out there that gave a damn meant a lot.
And then there were the anonymous people. So many times there would be little notes or bags of things left at the station. People who would call the station and ask how they could help.
I can't ignore the lovely calls and emails I've gotten from all the listeners, too. The comments on the posts and on Facebook and everything has just encouraged me to keep going forward. One call I wanted to be sure to share was from a listener named Debbie.
I really can't thank you all enough. There aren't words in the English language to express the gratitude I have to each and every one of you. It makes me so thankful that I am where I am, surrounded by wonderful individuals and groups. It also reminds me of how lucky I am.
Last week, I went to the local Walgreens to pick up a few things. As I was checking out, a fellow Mark Twainer walked in (he'll remain anonymous). We chatted and I asked him how he was doing. He said he was staying in a hotel for sixty dollars a night, trying to sleep when he could, going to every place he could think of for help. As he was talking, I noticed red marks on his arm that weren't there when I had talked to him last week. They were stress hives. I told him about the fundraisers and about the donations that were going to be gathered, and that seemed to help. As I walked out, I couldn't help but feel terrible. I wondered, "Why am I so lucky to have all this help, a place to stay and family, and this poor guy is on his own?"
That's why I hope you'll help us help them. I don't even care about getting stuff for me, I feel like that would be weird and wrong. I want to help them. So please, if you can, join us this weekend with Dale and all the gang out at Dukes and Boots. The trailer is set up, and he's taking donations now. If you don't have any money, anything you think someone might need will be helpful. Really, if you just kind of look around your house and think of things you love that you'd hate to be without.... that's probably the kind of stuff we need. Everything from socks and hairbrushes to pillows and chairs and everything inbetween.
I've seen firsthand the kindness of Sedalians. I hope it doesn't fail us now. Thank you all so very much for all your kind words and actions. I appreciate all the thoughts and calls and emails and whatever it is you expressed to me. I had no idea that anyone outside of my immediate circle gave a damn about me, to be honest. Even when you're on the radio every day, you kind of forget that you're talking to actual people - and they might be listening.
I'm glad you're listening. I'm glad you're with us. Thank you for everything.