Dawson

10 years ago on Wednesday September 13th 2006 at 12:42pm I was supposed to be walking through the doors of the Blvd. Maisonneuve entrance of Dawson College to grab lunch at Alexis Neon. In a time where Myspace reigned supreme, the iPhone was but a dream and Facebook/YouTube were in their infancies, my class would finish at 12:30pm and I’d normally walk to across the street to grab some lunch. I’d go to the food court, eat, read anything I could get my hands on and wait for my 2:00pm class. With all my friends on other CEGEP campuses, I’d always take the time to walk with my headphones on through school like clockwork to the same spots.

As I walked out of my elective guitar class at 12:30pm in the back end of the school on the 3rd floor (a class I took right after Kamakazi was formed but not yet signed, as an attempt to broaden my horizons) I was ready to walk past the 3rd floor cafeteria, take the stairs down the 2nd floor and walk out the building and jaywalk on Maisonneuve into Alexis Neon. Every time It took me roughly 15 min to reach the front entrance. But that day something different happened.

A few steps after exiting class, my guitar class TA Vincenzo sticks his head out the door and says:

“Hey Nick, how is your Kamakazi project coming along?”

I stopped, waited for him to join me and we talked. We walked slowly as I told him how a record label was interested in us, how I was going to record my first real album the following year. He was such a good listener and so eager to give advice.

At 12:42pm we were next to the 3rd floor cafeteria, next to an exit, still talking.

BANG.

We saw a sea of people running towards us. Yelling. Crying. Didn’t matter who they were. I’ll never forget those faces of pure panic. We both looked at each other, nodded then flew out the door.

I ran to my car amidst a sea of people running, some bloodied, some injured on the pavement on Maisonneuve. It was chaos. My cell phone wouldn’t work, the signals were jammed.

I got in my car and raced home. My friends called me all day, asking if I was ok.

Thankfully, I was.

Every year on this day I can’t help but stop and remember how close it came to it not being ok. How close I came to being in the heart of it. How close I came to maybe not having the life I have today. How close I came to never seeing my band flourish or meet Marie. All the amazing things I’ve gone through (good or bad) in the last 10 years that would of never happened.

Don’t take what you have for granted.
I got lucky but not everyone did.
My story is one of the thousands from that day.
Some are scarred for life – both emotionally and physically.
I was lucky. I don’t know how or why but as time goes by, I take solace in the fact that maybe it was never my choice to begin with.

As this day will come to a close, I will hug my fiancé, my friends and my loved ones a little harder than usual, keeping in mind how easily life can take a turn we never expect.

You should too.

Nick Gagnon

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