It's strange: I didn't know I was sitting 29 floors above a bomb scare until my wife IM'ed me about it. At first, I didn't believe her, but then I looked out my window, down to the empty streets of Times Square, the clusters of cop cars, the police tape fluttering in the breeze, and suddenly, the whole situation became very real — and scary.
Sadly, that's the way things have been in New York for nearly a week now, ever since the NYPD thwarted a potential car bombing right around the corner from where today's bomb scare — actually a cooler — sat. Everyone's nervous, a little on edge, even if they won't admit it. Every stray box on the subway is eyed suspiciously, every police siren gives you pause, if only for a second. There's a weird tension in the air — one that began with 9/11 and is revived every time there's a blackout (2003), a water-main explosion (2007) or even just an unusually loud boom. Working right in the middle of Times Square, you just try to ignore it, which, truth be told, is sort of easy ... it just comes with being a New Yorker.
But then, someone leaves an unattended cooler on a picnic table, and all of a sudden, you can't ignore the fact that bad things happen all the time, everywhere in the world, to people just like yourself. It was doubly weird for me because I was actually in Times Square on Saturday when the (thankfully) failed car bomb was discovered. I had just returned from a shoot for MTV News and was dropping equipment off in our building when police cleared the area. I'm not going to lie: It was slightly terrifying. The crowds, the sirens, the shouting, the feeling of panic in the air ... for a few brief moments, it brought back memories of 9/11, and that sort of shook me to the core. Still, come Monday, I was back at work.
Anyway, with all that in mind, I walked into the MTV Newsroom this afternoon and along with my co-workers, spent the next hour peering out of our windows, watching CNN, waiting to see what would happen next. We cracked jokes to ease the tension. We wondered aloud if this meant we could leave work early (hey, it's Friday).
Friends called. Parents too. Everyone was watching the drama unfold beneath our feet. CNN fielded garbled phone calls from people on the street. Twitter crashed. The bomb squad came onto the scene. It was kind of strange ... we were at the epicenter of the world's top story at that moment.
Fortunately, nothing happened. Traffic started flowing through Times Square once again. CNN started reporting on other things. Police gave the all-clear. And we could all return back to pretending this kind of stuff never happens — and hopefully, we can keep pretending that for a long time. You kind of have to when you live in New York, especially these days, when a cooler filled with water bottles can shut down the busiest intersection in the city.
And as I write this, there are police sirens going off in the distance. A fire truck is barreling down Times Square. I don't know what's happening, and I kind of don't want to. If you live in New York, you learn to live with this kind of thing.