I rarely give a conscious thought to the possibility of being caught up in a terrorist attack, fully accepting the likelihood that NYC remains a target and at some point in the future, another attack will come. Other than crawling under a rock or moving to North Dakota, there’s really no other option and, to be honest, I don’t even see much difference between the two.
Every now and then, though, something random happens that forces me to acknowledge that I live and work smack in the middle of one of the largest bullseyes around, and it can be a little unnerving.
Today, I took a little trip uptown at during lunch and on the way back, got off the train at City Hall because I wanted to walk a bit. Exiting the car onto the platform, my mind lost in the sublime logic of Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals (I’ve only read the Prologue so far and I’m already loving it; thanks, Siegel!) I just missed walking smack into a fully-armored police officer carrying an M16, trailed by two more cops identically equipped. Two of them were carrying their rifles with the barrel poionted up, a no-no in the military unless you’re actively on patrol because of the potential for accidentally pulling the trigger and shooting one of your own. My first thought was that they were badly trained. My second thought was that they were on patrol. There, on the platform of the City Hall station. One car from the end of the platform and walking with a purpose.
Not sure which thought disturbed me more.
Outside, a few blocks south on Broadway, I can see the gaping hole that used to be the World Trade Center down the block to my right. Two blocks further, a number of police cars are lined up, an ambulance sitting behind them, lights flashing but no sirens blaring. A large cube van is pulled over at the line and a police officer is talking to the driver, a vaguely Arabic-looking latino who is still sitting in the driver’s seat of the van.
For the next few blocks I think about Spain and the meaning of their new government and its new leader standing up to Bush on his continuing occupation of Iraq. I also realize that despite Alinsky’s book being published in 1971, his prologue is startingly current.
By the time I make it back to work – on the fringes of the financial district, as likely a target as any here in the city – my thoughts have moved on to other more personal things and the sense of naked helplessness I’d felt 10 minutes earlier had completely passed. Life goes on in the big city; if not always by choice, then by necessity.