Sunday, May 2, 2010

Bomb scare in Times Square

When I lived in Tel Aviv from 1997 to 1998 I rode the city buses all the time. One ride in particular I'll always remember.

A woman motioned to a small rectangular box on the floor and asked whether it belonged to anyone. When no one claimed it, she yelled to the driver, who stopped the bus, and we all got off while he called for the bomb squad.

Thankfully, there was no bomb. What struck me was, I didn't even notice the box and if I had, it wouldn't have occurred to me to say anything. As an American, it wasn't anything I'd ever had to think about.

I got on another bus in Tel Aviv that day and I continued to ride them. After all, you can't stop living your life. I always felt very safe in Israel. I guess that's the difference between living in a country and watching the news reports from afar.

Israelis, sadly, are accustomed to being hyper vigilant. Yesterday's bomb scare in Times Square is another reminder that Americans now have to be vigilant, too. But like Israelis, we can't live our lives in fear.

Kudos to the two sidewalk vendors who alerted the police to the suspicious SUV and to the quick response from the New York Police Department, the New York Fire Department and the bomb squad. Bustling Times Square can't be an easy place to evacuate at any time.

I've been to New York City about a dozen times over the past three years and as a theatre fan, I love the convenience of staying in Times Square. I feel completely safe walking back alone from a Broadway show to my hotel at midnight.

In fact, I've felt safe everywhere I've gone in the city. It's one of my favorite places to visit. Yesterday's incident doesn't change that. The next time I get to New York I will definitely stay in Times Square, without hesitation.

Am I vigilant? Of course. Wherever I am, I'm always aware of my surroundings. That's just common sense.

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