I don’t know how much more on alert I can be. Perhaps there’s a pamphlet I can read, or a class I can take? Maybe I should purchase a gun? You never know these days, and I guess that the increased alert from orange to, well, orange means that I should be more on alert than the alert that I was already on. But unless I join the military, carry a rifle down 5th Avenue with an armored tank division trailing behind me, what more do you expect me to do?
In the past 2 and ½ hears since Sept. 11 New York City has not spent a single day off terror level orange. I don’t think I’m unique in saying that every time a white van with no markings parks on the street outside a building I happen to be strolling past I look and think, “Is that the one?” I’ve been told to go back to work, and I did. I’ve been told to act as if everything is just the same, and I do. I go to movies, I shop at stores, I eat at restaurants, and all of these acts are performed at a heightened state of emergency. So what, exactly, do you want from me?
It’s hard not to meet Ridge’s most recent campaign announcement with not just skepticism, but also a yawn. I’m tired of orange. I’m sick of teetering near red. I hate yellow. Fuck green. I’m not quite sure I want to know anymore if an attack is impending or not. We already know the terrorists aren't going to give a date, time, and location, and that if they don't, we also know, based on experience, that our President isn't going to do much at all to stop it. "Bin Laden still determined to attack within the United States."
If it is coming, it’ll probably be in New York. And if it’s not here, then surely the terrorists will hit New York. Or maybe even New York. Maybe they’ll pick some other big city, but what if they are more arbitrary? What if it’s a church in some 2,300 population enclave in the middle of Nebraska?
Even my agitation is causing me agitation, and this whole terror alert system isn’t doing anything to assuage the nagging thought in the back of my head that perhaps, even though I’d like to believe in some form of governmental altruism, these events have as much to do with your job safety as they do with my personal well being.
I stood less than a 1/3 of a mile from the Towers as they fell, and perhaps there was something that could have been done, but my biggest fear is that any lesson we learned about the insidious habits of terrorism lie in the tattered suits and cremated remains of those who fell with those giant buildings. Because here’s the only terror alert I know for sure. The next time it hits, run. Run like hell. Run towards the blast to see what help you can offer, or run like hell away and save your own skin. Make way for the cops and firemen and first responders, and clap for them when they pass.
After Sept. 11 I received an e-mail from a kid I knew who was serving in the Israeli army. He was not unsympathetic to what had just happened, far from it, but his message was simple, and terrifying. “Maybe now,” he wrote, “you will begin to understand the type of things the citizens of Palestine and Israel live with on a daily basis, whether there is an attack or not.”
It’s like the coffee shop conversationalists who sit around jabbering about all the great art they are going to make, then go home and watch television. I don’t want to hear about it anymore. If you do your job and protect my life, I will be grateful, but not outwardly so. And if, and this is just the reality in which we live, we are unlucky enough to suffer another attack, either because you failed me or because, through the last two plus years of strafing, war, bloodshed, and “bring ‘em ons” you’ve brought this upon us all, you certainly won’t have earned my sympathy because you warned me about it beforehand.