So I wrote the post earlier today and took a shower and got dressed and walked up to my train, my mind awash with thoughts of the workday to come, Emily’s offer, the parts of my teeth I would soon be without. Made the train with two minutes to spare and found an inside seat.
It was uneven. One part of the cushion was outrageously higher than the other. Didn’t make it unbearable to sit, but less than optimal. I figured this was something that could be easily tamped down, so I investigated and discovered there was something under the seat.
Protruding just the slightest bit from the seat cushion was the neck of a bottle of Grey Goose vodka. Presumably empty, though as I was about to investigate further, I imagined how it would look to be pulling out a vodka bottle on the morning commute. Probably what the purchaser of said bottle was thinking about the time (s)he stuffed it into its present location.
I decided to switch seats to one across the way since I suddenly felt less comfortable being that closely tied to this glass container. And then the second explanation possibility hit me, sending me suddenly walking toward the other end of the train to take a seat (an evenly cushioned one, no less) a full car-length distant.
What if the bottle were stuffed with explosives, then set inconspicuously beneath the seat?
Now, this probably wouldn’t have occurred to me at all were it not for the recent “Mack Truck Time” consciousness I’d expressed at the conclusion of my previous post. The hallmark of Mack Truck Time is much like Morality Day – a time of being extra vigilant and aware of the potential hazards of the world. These little paranoid interludes are probably good preparation for being a parent someday. Or, perhaps, really awful preparation for same.
Regardless, it didn’t take much time for me to talk myself off the ledge of the ridiculous mental assertion that the bottle of Grey Goose was the first act of terrorism on US soil since 9/11. And yet, once one has a thought like that, it festers. It’s hard to just shrug it off and settle into Willa Cather’s wilds of New Mexico and calm mental focus. One keeps looking up at the call button for the train operator and imagining how one would feel if the next noise one heard was not the interminable screeching of metal wheels on metal track, but a thunderous boom followed by screaming horror.
Of course, there’s the sanity-inducing countervailing imagery. The panicky looks of those near the call button, eavesdropping with burgeoning fear. The train stopping at the station, holding up the commute for 30-40 minutes while uniformed men with dogs board and search. The inevitable rolling of eyes that lead to questioning the long-haired guy with anti-American blog posts who called this thing in in the first place.
Ultimately, though, none of these potential pitfalls were what persuaded me. Nor was it the fact that it was a bottle of alcohol that was hidden, which was about the most harmlessly explicable thing ever. (Though of course, that’s exactly what a terrorist would use to make it look otherwise explicable and usual, right?) No one would go to that length to hide a Coke can (also technically disallowed on BART). Still, this didn’t carry the day for me.
What convinced me was the same thing that I posted about in November ’07 and holds true today. There are functionally no terrorists who are going to strike civilians in the domestic United States. Certainly not on the scale of what you could fit in a vodka bottle. Just ain’t happening. If it were happening, it would’ve happened all over, lots of times, in the last eight years. It was not going to start today.
I’m not saying there will never be another incident called terrorism on US soil again. Though I have to believe it’s possible, if for no other reason than the US may not be the label for this soil too much longer. But the odds are greater that it’s Tim McVeigh II than an allegedly Middle Eastern group, and the odds of the former are greatly reduced by the propaganda about the latter. If there’s one thing that wingnut Montana militia members hate more than what they’d blow up, it’s being associated with the people currently being considered as potential terrorists.
So I went on reading about a doomed Archbishop, confident in the fact that my brief paranoia was just that. There were no explosions, no screaming, no news stories that followed. Sometimes a bottle of Grey Goose is just a bottle of Grey Goose.