As many of you might already know, there was an attempted bombing last Monday at the Port Authority subway station. News reports say the bomb went off earlier than planned and didn’t cause as much damage as the bomber had hoped for. While a bomb of any magnitude makes me shudder, I’m so thankful we’ll never know exactly how much damage the bomb would have done had it gone off “properly.”
When the bomb went off, I was just stepping onto my morning bus in New Jersey. I knew something was wrong the minute my bus entered the Lincoln Tunnel. After waiting in standstill traffic for about 20 minutes, the bus’s radio blared to life and we heard an announcement from the Port Authority Bus Terminal telling all bus operators to proceed to an alternate drop-off location due to “increased police activity in the terminal.”
Almost immediately, cell phones started beeping and chiming on the bus. I heard murmurs of, “don’t worry, I’m fine,” and “wait, what happened?”
As if on cue, my roommate called me, sounding like she had been startled from a deep sleep. “Hey, you’re okay right?” A brief search on my phone brought me up-to-date on the morning’s events. A bomber had struck the busiest transportation hub in New York City.
Why am I telling you all this? Because it scared me silly, that’s why. For a brief moment, I considered hopping on another bus as soon as I got to the bus station so I could be back in the comfort of my own home as soon as possible.
Almost as soon as that thought crossed my mind, I realized how stupid that was. I’ve read enough articles about these types of attacks to know that the primary goal of the attackers is to make you afraid, to disrupt everyday life, to “send a message.”
When I got off the bus, I walked straight to the gym, worked out, then headed to my office. I’ll admit, it was kind of a strange day (you can’t have a totally normal day after things like this), but come Tuesday morning I’d put it all behind me. I got on my usual bus, worked out at the gym, and went to the office as usual.
Since the bombing, I’ve caught up with a few friends I haven’t seen in a while. Inevitably, the conversations would turn to Monday’s attack and I’d get asked how I felt about the whole thing. Are you scared to take the bus now? Were you near the attack when it happened? Is NYC a safe place to be?
Surprisingly, I’m not remotely scared to take the bus to Port Authority every morning. In truth, I think it’s one of the safest places to be in the city. Every morning when I get off the bus, I walk past National Guard members stationed throughout the bus terminal. When I go downstairs to the subway, I see NYPD in front of the turnstiles. I’ve never once felt unsafe in Port Authority, or any part of the city for that matter.
If Monday’s bombing or any past threats that have made the news have made you scared to visit NYC, I encourage you visit anyways. New York City is going to have some scary things happen, that’s just a fact of life. With so many people living in one area, there are bound to be shootings and terror threats. I don’t mean to sound blasé about the whole thing, but that’s the truth. However, in the year and some change that I’ve lived in the city, I’ve never once felt unsafe.
New York is truly the city that never sleeps. When I leave my friend’s Williamsburg apartment after midnight, there are dozens of people riding the subway with me. If I get into the city early to meet a friend for coffee, there are workers walking to the bus station after their night shift has ended. I’m never really alone in NYC, and that’s what makes me feel so safe.
It all boils down to this: New York is susceptible to sad, scary things like any other city in the world. But if you’re aware of your surroundings and use your head, you’ll get around the city just fine.
New York City is one of my favorite places in the world, and I want you to love it as much as I do.
Tell me: Have you been through an event like this before? If so, I’d love to hear your story if you’re comfortable sharing it.