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The Vigilance Of Times Square: A Coffee Cup Reflection

GROUND ZERO PLUS 1208 DAYS,--New York, NY, Sunday, January 2, 2005--It is Sunday, the day after 2005's birth. The streets are still pathways for paper tumbleweeds, tumbling here and there from the aftermath of millions pressing against one another to watch a crystal lighted ball drop at midnight in Times Square.

I was traveling by subway from the Bronx to the East Village on New Year's Eve. The train I took from the Bronx didn't go to the East Village, so I hopped off the 1 Train and made my way through the hoards of subway people toward the N and R Train.

I carried an empty coffee cup I had downed on the trip from 247th St. in the Bronx to 42nd in the heart of Manhattan. I looked for a place to dispose of it.

Police filled the subway station at Times Square, directing passengers so they flowed in single lines rather than mixing and blending like a giant football team on the ten-yard line, everyone trying to break loose of the madding crowd to catch the pass, which in this case would be the next downtown ... or uptown train.

There was no place to toss my empty coffee cup. All the trash cans were taped shut, covered with black garbage bags. I thought it a bit absurd since if someone were going to dump a bomb or some chemical into the trash can, there was only a thin layer of plastic covering the trash can. An exacto knife slitting the plastic and sliding whatever inside would be as easy as coughing.

To test my theory, I placed my empty coffee cup behind the trash can. No alarms went off. No police attacked me and accussed me of being a terrorist.

At my stop, on 8th Street, there were no police, no covered trash cans. I thought about it. Here in the heart of the East Village was a perfect unwatched target--the New York University stop. All the cops were centered at Times Square while the other 420 some subway stops were naked of protection.

Ah, I thought, Vigilance isn't the sum of all efforts, it is the sum of one effort. In this case, 42nd Street.

So, on this Sunday I am thankful there were no attacks or events of any consequence in the Big Apple.

I am also glad I could put my empty coffee cup to rest in a trash can.



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