Yesterday morning while on the way to work, I stopped to take a couple of photos. One was a lovely shot of lower Manhattan. The other was of a handful of helicopters hovering over the city like buzzards over a carcass. There’d been a bombing in the subway, so every news outlet in the tristate area had eyes in the sky to provide viewers with one-of-a-kind shots of NYC rooftops.
I posted both photos to social media and carried on my way. After arriving at work and logging on to Twitter, I found this tweet:
“Uh, there’s been a terror attack.”
Clearly a smart-ass response to something. I figured maybe he was explaining the helicopters. But no. What triggered this tough-on-terrorism snowflake was my other photo.
I thought for a while about not responding. I try not to feed trolls, especially people I don’t know. But then I asked myself, “What if everyone just ignores this jackass? He’ll just go around social media thinking he burned someone.” I would be responding on behalf of humanity!
I considered many options, including a polite response. But I already had my suspicions about this guy based on his tone.
So I responded: “Uh. No shit.”
To which he responded: “Why were you saying ‘lovely day’ then?”
“Because fuck you, that’s why,” is the first thing I typed. But I deleted it, rather than hitting the Tweet button.
Instead, I wrote: “Because it’s still a lovely day. The sun is still shining. Some of us still had to come into work. Are you cowering in your panic room somewhere while you police Twitter?”
I held back a little bit. What I really wanted to say was that he was cowering somewhere NOT in New York. I would have bet money on it at that point. But I didn’t want to be presumptuous.
Then he replied: “no need to get nasty. I don’t live in NY so” and inserted a GIF from “Office Space.”
I didn’t respond. I’d made my point. And if he was telling ME not to get nasty after the way he started the exchange, I’d just let him slide back into his hole.
The thing is, that Twitter exchange bugged me a lot more than the bombing did. Maybe my priorities are screwed up. Maybe I just file “subway bombings” under “things I can’t control” and “Twitter jackasses” as something I can at least push back against.
If there’s one thing that bugs me … Okay. There are clearly a lot of things that bug me. But people who don’t live in New York freaking out about things that happen here annoy me. Just as people who live outside of the Southeast start freaking out about hurricanes hitting Louisiana or Texas (and then forgetting all about it two weeks after the fact).
Here’s what I did yesterday. On my way to work, I stopped at the laundromat to drop off my laundry. I’d intended to break my addiction to the express bus and take the subway all the way to work. But the laundromat owner told me there’d been an explosion of some sort in the system near Times Square. I watched a bit of the news on TV and looked at my phone and then said, “Screw this. I’m taking the bus all the way in.” It wasn’t because I was afraid of bombs. It was because the trains were completely tied up at that point. I don’t go anywhere near Times Square/Port Authority, but I do take the A/C/E line for part of my trip. And I had no intention of spending over an hour and a half crawling along.
In fact, the only reason I was in a position to take the “lovely day” photo (which you’ll notice includes One World Trade) was because my daily route had been changed because of the bombing.
But it’s not like I’m the only one. Jim Dwyer wrote a piece in the Times yesterday headlined, “In a Bombing’s Aftermath, Doubling Down on the Everyday.”
I think he nailed it with this: “For most of us, a touch of amnesia permits a sane-ish existence.”
Dwyer reminds us of the other subway bombings, none which I’d never heard of and most of you probably hadn’t either. An unidentified guy in 1988. Some other nut jobs in 1997. Edward J. Leary in 1994. Leary was a lot more “successful” than sad sack Akayed Ullah, the guy behind yesterday’s job.
As Dwyer states, “The current estimated number of things that can go wrong is put at infinity.”
And that applies to things beyond bombs. In fact, I wrote something very similar in the anthology “The Subway Chronicles: Scenes from Life in New York.” The title of my essay? “Bombs! Anthrax! Gas! Ho, hum.” Yes, that was written in the wake of 9/11. But just think of all the things we actively don’t think about every day. Falling plaster. Track fires. Derailments. Shootings. Bridge collapses. (Your really don’t want to start looking into the torsion of the tracks on the Manhattan Bridge.) And my favorite: Some sort of breach in an under-river tunnel.
And you don’t have to be a New Yorker. Not to freak you out, but there have been multiple bombing attempts across the U.S. just this year. Jerry Varnell tried to blow up a bank in Oklahoma City in August. Michael Christopher Estes tried to blow up the airport in Asheville, North Carolina, back in October.
How many of you have stopped going to the bank? How many of you have stopped flying? Not a lot of you. Why? Because you have shit to do.
And having shit to do and continuing to do it, as much as anything else, trumps punk-ass wanna be terrorists every time.