The inquiry into the Sydney siege is just the next step in the process of this tragic event that has left an indelible mark on the minds of not only many Sydneysiders, but millions across the world. On that sun-drenched summers day in December thousands of Sydneysiders were going about their everyday lives. Not far from the Lindt Café, I was getting ready for a busy lunch time rush with customer numbers boosted due to holiday makers, Christmas shoppers and the usual crowd of office workers.
Like many Sydneysiders on that day I became aware of the horrific events that were unfolding literally around the corner by people coming into the café and through media coverage. About 11 o’clock I was approached by the Building Manager who informed me that Vivo café was inside an exclusion zone that ran from Macquarie Street to Georgie Street requesting that I close the doors. As my café sits under a large city building that also meant that over 2,000 people who work in the offices above were also instructed not to leave their building for safety reasons.
What struck me most about this almost unimaginable experience was the sense of calm and responsibility to fellow workers, friends and family that emanated throughout the café. There was no panic as people realised the gravity of the situation only a sense of doing the right thing by themselves and those around them, peppered only by calls from friends and loved ones checking on our wellbeing.
Police, paramedics and other emergency service workers on that day operated in conjunction with others who were tasked with stepping up. That included State government agencies, transport providers, individual first aid workers within companies, City of Sydney staff, business owners, employees and I’m sure countless others. The actions of all groups and individuals involved is truly testament to the mindset of everybody that did what was required. People were moved to safety, buses re-routed, trains re-scheduled, office buildings locked down, barricades installed and information lines set up with precision and efficiency.
As the café was shut our staff sprang into action and worked throughout the day to provide food and beverages to a large majority of the 2,000 people from the building above. I am sure there are countless stories of individuals within various organisations that got on with their jobs to support any efforts they could to assist in their own individual way while hoping and praying for a peaceful outcome for those trapped inside the Lindt Café.
While I was devastated that day I was also proud to be part of a group of Sydneysiders that sprang into action and did the little bit that we could to support the efforts of those on the front line of the situation and those inside the Lindt café. We could not reach out to them in person so we did the next best thing we could and got on with doing our jobs, supporting the city and those people around us.