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More NYC Observations (Long)

September 18, 2001 12:06PM
<a href="[] src="/emote/ramt.gif" align=left hspace=8 vspace=4 border=0></a>I've been saving a bunch of thoughts from the NY front gathered over the weekend.
I returned home from work Friday evening to find notices plastered all over the front doors and mail boxes of my building. There were lists of items that neighbors were collecting for the rescue volunteers, as well as a list of drop off points. There were boxes and plastic grocery bags cluttering the entrance hall. I wondered about some of the items stuffed in the boxes. The cynic in me thought that half the stuff that was being donated would end up in the trash or in someone else's home. Some of you might have heard that a lot of donated food wound up being thrown away - there was too much of it, and it couldn't be properly stored. It's best to give cash and let the agencies that are running things make the purchases.
Cynicism aside, I went food shopping on Saturday afternoon and purchased several giant size bottles of Tylenol, Advil, and Bayer aspirin. I took Templar for a walk to the Staten Island Yankee Stadium (a minor league team whose stadium opened this past June) where there was a drop off point for the rescue effort. Along the way, I walked on a street that is elevated and overlooks New York Harbor, and of course, Manhattan. There were flags and posters attached to the wrought iron fence that tops a low concrete wall. Some people were leaning against the fence and watching the skyline. I suspect that there had been greater crowds at one point, but they were gone by now. There were also many glass jars with candles, mostly extinguished, on the ledge. I saw a neighbor, Bob, relighting all the candles. We exchanged words about the glasses falling off the ledges. Bob thought I was nuts to think that it was dangerous - his view was who cares about these details at a time like this. My view was that anyone walking a dog or wearing sandals might think a lot since the sidewalk was already strewn with glass (these sidewalks are not maintained by the City). An argument seemed pointless.
Templar and I walked past the S.I. Ferry Terminal access roads. Huge Sanitation Department dump trucks filled with sand blocked the roads. There was a small police presence, of course, but more Sanitation workers at the intersection. These were probably the men who drove the trucks. I think the idea was to have people in uniform providing a sense of order. The sand trucks are obviously a defensive tactic - they can withstand much more force than a regular police car or makeshift gate.
I walked down a long ramp from the sidewalk to the bottom of the stadium and the waterfront. There were volunteers moving carts filled with bottled drinks. I saw a clipboard to sign up to volunteer. I wrote my name and both my numbers, but I don't think that anyone will call. The volunteer effort has been overwhelming and people are being turned away.
Templar is a great conversation starter since borzoi is not a common breed and lots of people came over to talk to me and see the dog close up. I saw neighbors working there too. One did not feel a sense of mourning at this site. It could have been a neighborhood block party.
The ferries were running all week, but only to shuttle rescue workers, injured people, and I suspect, corpses. The Stadium was also being used a morgue earlier in the week.
The unfamiliar site of F16s were circling the City borders and waterways. We are not accustomed to these sounds. One Coast Guard boat sailed back and forth in the Verrazano Narrows, which leads to the Harbor.
On Saturday, my community (a complex of renovated warehouses that were converted to lofts) proceeded with their annual tennis tournament. The group didn't want to let the week's events stop their plans.
My best pal at the co-op, Wendy, manages a psychiatry unit at the local hospital. For the first time in the 10 years that I have known her, she was scheduled to work on the weekend. Her unit, normally closed, was open for the expected volume. Wendy told me that in the first days following the WTC disaster, hospital staff came to the psych unit because they had loved ones missing. A large number of NYC firemen and policemen live on Staten Island, and many people work in lower Manhattan due to our close proximity.
By the end of the week, those who escaped from the WTC, or other downtown buildings were coming into her unit. Their volume tripled. I see the strain on Wendy. I called her on Saturday offering to bring her lunch, but she had eaten a small salad and wasn't hungry for much more. Wendy acknowledged that she needed to go out to dinner and have some relief. I feel an obligation to take care of Wendy for who takes care of the caregivers? The strain is on her face. She says that the stories are horrifying, but she has to listen because that is her job. You don't need additional details from me - you have seen it on television.
Wendy made some other interesting observations. She said that it was nice to take care of 'nice' people for a change. Her days are usually filled with sociopaths, psychotics, ne'er-do-wells who abuse the system, etc. She derived great satisfaction from helping nice people. She also noted that some of her 'regular' clients showed up because suddenly they weren't the center of attention. The units didn't have the time or the inclination to deal with them.
As soon as Wendy came home from work, I drove her to our favorite local restaurant that overlooks industrial Bayonne, New Jersey. During dinner, I drew a map of lower Manhattan and labeled all of the affected buildings on a paper place mat. I thought that this was just an overview, but Wendy kept asking for details and made me label the map more clearly. Finally, I understood - Wendy wanted to use the map to help her understand the specific buildings and sites that her clients were talking about. Which building is the Commodities Exchange? Which is Morgan Stanley Dean Witter? Suddenly, I felt badly about all of the details that I couldn't explicitly note.
When we returned home, I stopped to chat with some neighbors who were enjoying a barbecue in the picnic area after the tennis tournament. (Doesn't my little community sound lovely?) I saw the co-op Board President, a Lehman Brothers employee. I had heard that he was at the PATH station below the WTC when the first plane hit. He told me his story, about running north from the debris, walking with the crowds over the bridges, and then finally hitching from somewhere in Brooklyn because he was walking with a diabetic friend who said that he couldn't go on. He told me that Lehman would probably operate on shifts so that they could share their Jersey City office space. Lehman occupied the lower third of American Express Tower and the building has been badly damaged. For those of you who have been watching the pictures on the news, Amex Tower is usually on the right of your screen from the scene known as Ground Zero. It is directly across the street from where the WTC stood, in the World Financial Center. I worked in that building when the bomb went off in the WTC eight years ago. It is 54 stories, but it rumbled and the lights flickered. I think that experience taught many people a lesson and caused them to evacuate the WTC despite initial information from authorities to the contrary in Tower 2.
I talked to other neighbors who are medical professionals. One doctor said that were in the emergency room waiting for patients early in the week, but as you all sadly know, their services weren't needed. The downtown and midtown Manhattan hospitals were able to handle the volume. One psychiatrist had been working at the Armory in Manhattan, a facility set up for families to report their missing loved ones. You can see the pain on her face too. On the weekend she had planned to go there again, but instead, had to cover in her usual location where there was also a flow of patients seeking psychiatric assistance.
Every neighbor has a story. Whenever you see someone whom you haven't seen all week, the conversation always starts with a sincere how are you, and then you mutually ask if they knew anyone. No words follow the 'anyone' in the previous question. The sentence doesn't need to be finished - it is understood. I wrote last week that everyone knows someone who knows someone that is missing or deceased. That statement still holds true.
On Sunday, I worked in my garden for hours. The weeding was like a purge, and mentally, it is one of the best things I can do with my time.
Wendy went back to work to open her unit Sunday morning. She returned after an hour and I made a big breakfast for her. She returned to work in the afternoon to see a patient who was coming back with her family.
My office floor is always very subdued, filled with technology people who stare at their screens. Monday seemed no different. But there was some cranky behavior coming from some of my peers and staff. I ignored them, not willing to engage in the pettiness at this time. Everyone is working at his or her own comfortable pace.
The skyline is smoking less, but the fires continue. The southwest corner of lower Manhattan is closed, but the rest of downtown is open, including the NYSE. The Dow tanked Monday, but from a technology perspective, the opening was a success. It was a record-breaking volume day and the systems were up, and stayed up - quite a feat considering that so many lines were destroyed. I still can't make long distance calls from home.
So that's my report from NY. Things are getting quieter already. There is only one notice posted in the lobby about goods to donate for the volunteers rather than six.
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» More NYC Observations (Long)

Golda September 18, 2001 12:06PM

Every neighbor has a story

JaneGS September 18, 2001 04:55PM

Thank you all

Golda September 18, 2001 04:55PM

Thank you (and Staten Island thoughts)

Krista September 18, 2001 04:52PM

Well done!

gkb September 18, 2001 03:20PM

Thanks Golda.

JulieW September 18, 2001 02:09PM

Thanks for the report, Golda

LaurieC September 18, 2001 01:44PM

Oh, my dear!

Debra R September 18, 2001 01:35PM

Thanks, Golda...

Linda Fern September 18, 2001 01:18PM


Barbara September 18, 2001 12:55PM

Thank you, Golda

Inko September 18, 2001 04:18PM

So true

kathleen (elder) September 18, 2001 01:24PM

Thank you

DavidL September 18, 2001 12:43PM


Barbara September 18, 2001 12:52PM

Thank you Golda

Cheryl September 18, 2001 12:20PM

and from me

Ann2 September 18, 2001 02:10PM

Sorry, you do not have permission to post/reply in this forum.