September 09, 2004
A firm-wide email was sent yesterday mentioning that my building was having its "annual (post 9-11) evacuation drill." The city fire department may participate, so I might actually see Atlanta firemen coming up the stairs as I walk down some 50-odd flights. Free ice cream will be handed out afterwards. [Update: No firemen, but I did get a frozen fruit bar, yum.]
The last time I had to leave a building through the emergency stairs, it was the summer of 2001. ConEd accidentally cut some cable that provided power to my building's elevators. My legs were kind of rubbery by the end, and I was a little surprised to see some of New York's Bravest hanging around in the lobby - but they were there for anyone needing help to get down the stairs. One of my coworkers was at the full term of her pregnancy and she didn't want to wait for the guys to come get her. So she walked with some of the secretaries and a guy from the mailroom, who all kept watch on her. It wasn't a surprise that she ended up having the baby a day or two later.
In the days or weeks after 9/11 I heard that my office building was one of those evacuated because of a bomb scare in or near Grand Central. But by then I was going to school full-time and looking for library work. In my downtime I would walk around aimlessly, the smell of scorched chemicals and dust strong in the cool crisp air. Flyers for the missing were taped everywhere. Every so often I'd pass a firehouse. I didn't gawk, but it was impossible to miss the flowers and candles and the dark swags of fabric draped over the archways. In the end, I have no personal tragedy, no dramatic stories to tell about that day. And that makes me damned lucky.
The thought occurs to me: If we concentrate and focus our collective mental energies - could we will Dick Cheney's heart to burst into a thousand flaming pieces? Although I think he deserves a slow, debilitating, long-suffering, excruciatingly painful death for many reasons, what he said in Des Moines on Tuesday is appalling. From a Washington Post article on 9/8/04:
Cheney went beyond previous restraints to suggest that the country would be more vulnerable to attack under Kerry. "It's absolutely essential that eight weeks from today, on November 2nd, we make the right choice, because if we make the wrong choice then the danger is that we'll get hit again," the vice president said, "that we'll be hit in a way that will be devastating from the standpoint of the United States, and that we'll fall back into the pre-9/11 mind-set, if you will, that in fact these terrorist attacks are just criminal acts and that we are not really at war."
There are complaints about overreaction to the remarks, about the lack of context, etc. etc. No, I think I read and heard it pretty plainly: If you vote for the wrong guy, you're going to die. My apologies to the people of Des Moines, but terrorists don't care about you - not enough to set off suicide bombs on your little Main Streets. You can afford to be glad and smug that you don't have the glitzy international prominence and symbolism of New York and DC to make you an easy target.
Now, of course, Cheney's in clean-up mode, helping us to understand what he really said. Right - because we're too stupid to understand. We're all just hysterical liberal media (but owned by the conservative, right-wing elite - Rupert Murdoch, anyone?) and leftist pinko handwringers who need the paternal condescension and wisdom of our Republican elders to guide us through these black, apparently never-ending days of fear and terror. To quote Mr. Big Time! - "Go fuck yourself."
Cheney: Kerry Victory is Risky [Washington Post] [bugmenot]
Cheney Spits Toads [NYT] [bugmenot]
We're Just Glad They're Not Using 9/11 for Political Purposes [Wonkette]