Saved by a stranger: How one tweet got me home safe from Manchester Arena
Out of bad, comes so much good
Joe Foster witnessed Manchester Arena's suicide bomb first hand. Inside the arena at the time, Joe has told The Tab about what he witnessed. After the incident he was left with no way of getting home. So he tweeted for help and, thanks to the kindness of the people of Manchester, made his way home to Liverpool.
Before I begin, I'm sure everyone is aware of the atrocities that happened at Manchester Arena on Monday the 22nd of May at the Ariana Grande concert. Whilst I will need to discuss some details of the situation, this article I hope will leave people with a sense of community and a warm heart as I give details into how one tweet got me home safe and sound.
Ariana Grande had just finished her final song. The lights went up and in true drunk fashion, I was asking for “one more song". I had amazing seats just next to the stage and I was sandwiched in-between two rows of mums and their children. As embarrassing as it could have been, I may have screamed louder than the kids on one or more occasion (note: the chorus of Into You just simply cannot be sung, it needs to belted). Composing ourselves and ready to hit Canal Street, we decided to leave the arena and just reached the steps from our seats to the stairs to leave and heard the explosion. The arena stood in silence for about two seconds, although it felt like five hours. I noticed people begin to sporadically run. Turning to my friend, we made a pact to hold on to each other against all odds and turned for the stairs. A sea of panicked, terrified concert-goes began to charge towards us, frantically looking for an exit. Incredibly confused as to what had gone on, I just knew I needed to get out of the arena in one piece.
Clutching on to one another and holding on to people for stability, we made our way up the stairs and I'm assuming we managed to go through the emergency exit and out of the arena. I'm assuming, because this moment was filled with such panic and terror I simply cannot remember leaving. I've played the moment back in my head again and again and again and right now, I cannot remember. We made it outside, and we began to see the aftermath of what we had just experienced. Within seconds the area was on lockdown filled with police, helicopters, and everything else of the like. Say what you want about our emergency services, but they responded with such speed I can only take my hat off to them.
Both of our phones had run out of battery, so we walked away from the arena and we came across two sets of young teenage girls in tears. One set said their dad had been injured and they were worried, another simply couldn't find their parents. I stood and thought to myself: “Joe, what can you say to these kids?" and the answer is nothing. Nothing I could have said to them would have put their little hearts to rest. So I opened my arms for hugs. Just constant hugs. Still with no phone battery, we headed towards Canal Street and all of the bars around that area had been evacuated. We took refuge in a takeaway. They allowed us to charge our phones, wait until we were safe and then I was faced with the task of getting back to Liverpool. That is when I sent out a tweet.
Right now I need the power of twitter. All trains have stopped and I'm going back to Liverpool tonight. Need a ride home I'll pay RT this!
— Joe (@joeefoster) May 22, 2017
Honestly, I knew the power of social media was good. But I didn't realise just how amazing social media was. Within minutes, my phone would not stop buzzing and I had people I have never met in my life either retweeting the tweet or quoting it and tagging people in or around the Manchester area that could be of any assistance. That is when I came across one guy who offered us such an act of kindness I will never ever forget it.
If anybody from Liverpool is in Manchester and needs picking up I'll do lifts all night. #manchester
— Jordan Stevenson (@JPJStevenson) May 22, 2017
The guy, Jordan, a 22-year-old Scouser, arranged to meet me at the Britannia Hotel in Manchester. I know some people may think of the obvious dangers of getting into a stranger's car, and I admit the day after I had these thoughts too, but the majority of people are nice. People are good. Whilst I was waiting for my lift home, I sat and began to reflect on what had happened tonight and to be perfectly honest, I was still in shock. You never ever want to assume the worst and I think apart of me didn't want to believe it.
As I was chatting to Jordan, he tried his best to make conversation and just reassure us that we were safe and everything was going to be okay. Exhausted, my friend had a little nap in the car on the way home and the panic began to simmer ever so slightly. Jordan stated he'd been brushing his teeth ready for bed and then saw the news. Realising how close Liverpool and Manchester were, he believed there would definitely be people, like myself, who were going back to Liverpool that night that had no way of getting home. Within minutes, he sent out a tweet, put his jeans on and began a six-hour service ferrying people back to Liverpool. He even apologised on the way home because he had to stop for petrol, which we tried to pay for but he refused. We offered him money on numerous occasions and he refused. Rather humorously he stated: “if you try to offer me money one more time you can walk home!" – It was nice to inject a bit of humour, a bit of normality into such a weird situation.
I think in all I got about half an hours sleep, and I woke up to a message from Jordan which perfectly and eloquently reflects on just why we need to value every moment in our lives.
— Joe (@joeefoster) May 23, 2017
Jordan is right, we must squeeze every inch of our lives out and live everything to the fullest. We cannot let acts of pure insanity and hatred narrate our own life stories. We are all given life as a gift, that's why every moment is known as the present and we must appreciate it. As cliche as this sounds, moments such as these have taught me we need to live as the person we are, not what anyone else wants us to be. We must be the true version of ourselves and live it to the fullest because we never ever know when our life may come to an end. I am unsure as to how many people Jordan helped that night, but whether it was just me and my friend or if he helped 100 people; the guy deserves to be recognised as a beacon of brilliance in such a tragic time.
To hear Jordan say a few words on the matter, he was interviewed by Channel 4 which you can watch by clicking here. In the interview, Jordan remembers seeing ambulance and emergency services zooming past him at lightning speed and calls them the true heroes of the night. Whilst I agree with him, even this response is a testament to the genuine kindness he demonstrated and he should be incredibly proud of himself. Just as we've seen the incredible homeless man who helped people escape the arena, Just as we've seen Hotels and residents across Manchester opening their doors for people in need, everyone involved is a hero.
I cannot thank everyone enough for their kind messages of support, the generosity of friends and strangers has far outweighed the monstrous attack on such innocent lives and if there is anything good to come out of this bad, it's that people do care about one another. We may argue and bicker of futile matters, but in true moments of panic we come together regardless of religion, race, sexuality, gender or anything else of that matter. May we wish for more people like Jordan in this world to give their evening to make someone else's life, and keep every victim and those affected by the tragedies in our prayers.
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