My wife and I spent the weekend in New York City. On Saturday evening, we had tickets to see "God of Carnage", starring Jeff Daniels, in a Times Square theatre on 45th Avenue. We had an outstanding dinner at Shula’s steakhouse, nearby, and proceeded down 8th Avenue to 45th Street to attend the play. We were abruptly stopped by crime scene tape running the width of 45th street. There was a massive traffic jam on 8th Avenue; there were police vehicles, fire trucks and police and fire personnel all over, on foot and horseback. We asked a couple of firemen what was going on and they said "There has been a bomb threat".
The words "a bomb threat", in New York City, evokes chilling memories and images. But, it was described as only a "threat". Little did we know that there was an actual bomb hidden in a parked car a short distance from where we were standing. Pedestrian crowds were demanding an explanation; it was 7:30 PM and they had 8:00 PM theatre tickets. They got their explanation, but, surprisingly, to many, a "bomb threat" wasn’t enough. They wanted to get through the tape; after all, they had theatre tickets! Some snuck under the tape; others argued with the police. I was amused by their behavior, but, hey, it was New York, right? I wonder how they would have reacted if they knew that this was more than a "threat", that on this night, there was an actual bomb.
My wife and I patiently waited, behind the yellow crime scene tape, ‘people-watching’ (there is certainly a diverse bunch of characters in NYC), and chatting with some very nice firemen. People were coming up to them and taking pictures with them. The atmosphere was carnival-like. One nice couple brought them coffee drinks from a nearby Starbucks. The crowd never seriously misbehaved; it never got unruly; but, clearly, it did not appreciate the danger presented by this "bomb threat". By the way, the police did a terrific job managing the crowd, without bullying it, and without causing unnecessary panic. I extend my (and my wife’s) profound gratitude to them for their marvelous performance under significant pressure.
I returned home on Sunday, took Monday off for a variety of reasons, and was in my office this morning. In my capacity as CEO of Lawsuit Financial Corporation, I was speaking to a prominent New York attorney about my lawsuit funding service and I advised him that I had been in the city this weekend, at the very spot and at the precise time where and when the "bomb incident" was happening. During our conversation, he expressed concern that New York always seems to be the target of these events and that the federal government always promises more funds for more protections, but rarely delivers. He indicated that the government fell far short of the promises it made to assist the city after 9/11. He indicated that if 9/11 had happened in another city, the government would have gone all out to rebuild, reinvest, and reinvigorate the city. A massive plan would have been launched to revitalize interest in the affected area. But, in New York, the effort always seems to fall woefully short, and the city and its wonderful, culturally diverse and vibrant communities are left to fend, primarily, for themselves. If this is true, the government needs to reconsider its policies and practices in this regard. Nothing is more important than safeguarding our people, whoever and wherever they are.
Was the attorney correct in his perception of the government’s failures after 9/11? I don’t know; but I do know this: As citizens of this country, we cannot let these terrorist elements push us around. We cannot let these bastards stop us from enjoying America. My wife and I fully intend to return to New York and enjoy this wonderful city. We never got to see the play; maybe we will return to New York soon enough to enjoy "God of Carnage", which closes on Broadway in nine weeks. But we will return. We will not curtail travel; we will not curtail activities. We will visit American cities on business, on pleasure, and as often as practicable.
I encourage anyone reading this post to schedule your travel in and around this great country; do not cancel anything. If you have not scheduled a trip and can afford to travel, schedule one, preferably to a city that could use your tourist dollars (my own city, Detroit, Michigan, is-surprisingly to some-a terrific city to visit with some great summer events, wonderful restaurants, and excellent cultural and entertainment venues). Schedule a weekend in New York, just to spite the "terrorists"; send them a message that their disgraceful behavior will not deter Americans from enjoying our country and its great cities.
I do not know whether we will ever see a refund for missing "God of Carnage". However, I will remember this night forever; while I am certain that "Carnage" is a terrific play, it would not forever stain my memory the way the weekend’s events will. I will always be able to say that "we were there the night that…". And, we will be back, again and again. Terrorists will not damper our American spirit. Schedule your travel, today, or as soon as humanly possible.
Attorney, certified civil mediator, and award-winning author of the Zachary Blake Betrayal Series. Mark Bello is also a member of the State Bar of Michigan, a sustaining member of the Michigan Association for Justice, and a member of the American Association for Justice.