Saturday night I was exactly where Faisal Shahzad had just run away from. Smack in Times Square. I was with my husband and we were meeting a colleague of his for dinner who had just arrived in town from Holland. She was staying at the Grace Hotel on 45th street and 7th Avenue. Smack in Times Square.
As we approached the intersection where her hotel was, we were shocked to see barricades and a contained throng of people on the corner. Looking down the street it was completely empty, a startling scene in New York City. Two policemen not far from us were telling us we weren't going anywhere for a long time. It was 7:20 PM.
Funny thing was my husband and I had walked up and down several nearby streets for the last twenty minutes trying to track down the Grace Hotel. We foolishly didn't have a street address. Just a jet-lagged Dutch woman's impression of where her hotel was situated. Frankly, I wouldn't be surprised if Shahzad had passed right by us making his get-away while we were circling.
While behind the barricade, I turned to ask a fellow by-stander what was happening. She didn't seem to know either. Turning back to my husband, he was gone. I remember last seeing him a few feet away on his phone. Moments later he came striding up with his colleague in tow. She and her son had been evacuated from their hotel as had all the hotel guests in the area. Hmmm...this was serious. You probably know by now that people emptied out of restaurants and Broadway theatres. The streets resembled a ghost town.
We walked two streets east, had dinner and then walked our dinner guests back toward their hotel sure that by 10:20 PM they could resume their fight with jet lag in bed. But not so, the streets were still closed. We heard the next morning from our dinner companions that they were not let into their hotel until 11:40 PM. We also heard about a car full of explosives just where we had been, and that thankfully Shahzad's bomb-making and setting skills are still in need of work.
Were they not that might have been the end of me, my husband and our guests, and of course thousands of others milling around Times Square on a beautiful Saturday evening.
Nine years ago had I walked through the World Trade Center just as I did on September 10, 2001 at 9:15 AM but one day later, I also would probably not be here.
I live in New York City. Like my fellow New Yorkers, I'm not going anywhere and I'm not going to change how I live and move around here. While I will say something if I see something, I will not live with fear or one eye looking over my shoulder. I live with diabetes just the same way.
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