Every New Yorker’s Secret Reaction to the Recent Terror Attack

The internal monologue of the greatest city in the world. • Joe Keohane
  Photo  © 2015 by  James Loesch , from The Flickr Commons. This image has not been altered; no connection between Mr. Loesch and  The American Bystander  is implied or should be inferred.  

Photo © 2015 by James Loesch, from The Flickr Commons. This image has not been altered; no connection between Mr. Loesch and The American Bystander is implied or should be inferred.  

1. Where was it?

2. How bad was it?

3. Is everyone I know ok?

4. If it was close by, can I help?

5. If not: Do I have to get down to that area to do something tonight or tomorrow morning?

6. If so: Is this going to be a big pain in my ass?

7. If not: Am I often in that area?

8. If so: Why wasn’t I there during the attack? Was it because the line at the coffee shop was long? If so: If I had caught that F train where the conductor slammed the doors in my face like an asshole, even though the train just sat there for another 30 seconds, would I have beat the line at the coffee shop, and then been right at the scene of the attack at that exact moment? Huh. Makes you think. Well, maybe there’s an upside to the MTA falling apart. Maybe I should consider this the next time I spend my whole commute flaming the governor on Twitter.

9. If not: Fuck Cuomo. I’ll vote Eric Trump’s gums for president before I pull the lever for that bum.

10. Who was the attacker?

11. If white: Prepare social media post about media and political double standards in reacting to lone wolf terror attacks perpetrated by white men.

12. If Muslim: Prepare social media posts about how the supposed national mental health crisis never seems to apply to Muslim lone wolf terrorists, only white ones.

13. Then be extra cool to your Pakistani bodega guy this morning. Let Fahad know that we know that he’s one of you, not one of them.

14. Even though, you know, frankly, this bagel could use a couple more minutes in the toaster. Would you mind? You’re the man, Fahad.

15. Where was the attacker from?

16. If he was here legally: Prepare social media posts about how a giant wall and/or extreme vetting wouldn’t have mattered in this particular instance.

17. If he was here illegally: Change the subject. Point out that the GOP shrugged off 58 dead in Vegas, but is freaking out about this. The hypocrisy is sickening. Dead is dead.

18. You know, not for nothing, but if I had to live in Paterson, NJ, and Tampa, Florida, like this guy did, I’d probably wind up a terrorist too. Throw in Phoenix and I’d be Hitler.

19. And I’ll tell you something: If I was a terrorist, I’d be a hell of a lot better than this guy. You’re going to do a truck attack in Manhattan, and you don’t go after Herald Square, or Union Square, or any hellishly crowded unguarded midtown area at rush hour? You pick... a bike path? At 3pm? And then you run out with… a BB gun? Bush league.

20. Take stock. How do you feel? Are you sad? Are you reminded for a brief moment of the inherent vulnerability of living in a place like this? A place thick with people, with a big target on its ass? Of course you are. Are you afraid? Never. Fear is for people in the flyover who live in places ISIS has never heard of. And you’ve got too much shit to do to worry.

21. This is just another reason to avoid the West Side. Like we needed one. ◊

This piece will appear in The American Bystander #7.

JOE KEOHANE
I
has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, New York, and many other publications.
Joe Keohane has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, New York, and many other publications.
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