While I like the “idea” of the United States, the notion of my identity being defined by a two hundred year old concept is silly.
“Our” troops are not my troops. I have nothing to do with them. I am forced under penalty of law to pay taxes. I am not hip on jail and I have no desire to suffer opposing one act of stupidity or another.
If people want to perpetuate violent solutions that hurt others and make monsters of themselves, have a good time. Please leave me out of it.
I would prefer not to have some F-head at customs ask me to justify who I am and what I have been doing. I would prefer not to have my bags checked even if there is nothing in them that is disliked by my current government. I would prefer to risk things blowing up than to live in a state that decides who should do what and when.
The down side of the fear that has gripped my American Island is that we have become less interesting, cowered in the corner, giving up the right to live full lives.
On a one to one basis I find people fascinating. As a collective they make me nauseous. Our wars and enemies are a big distraction that help folks point to what it means to be American. Defining yourself by patriotism is sad. Ideas are good or bad on their own merit, individual and unique to the instance in time.
Folks should find an identity that does not require a nation, a god, an ethnicity or a hobby.
Accept that you me and everyone living or dead has no clue what is going on, never have, probably never will; now live with it.
I’m the guy drinking in the corner screwing up the lyrics to a country song.
I woke up on wednesday after a rough nights sleep. I started walking in Manhattan and my feet sort of lead me south to the financial district. I could see what looked like a big white cloud in an otherwise crystal clear day. I passed fourteenth street noticing the businesses where mostly closed. The small deli’s had signs saying “sorry no newspapers being sold today”.
When I got close to the World Trade Center the police where turning people away. A man on a bike told me I could volunteer to help out at the Jacob Javits center on 34th. I started walking up the West Side Highway which is usually packed with cars but today was empty .I came to a stop light and looked over at two guys in heavy metal tee-shirts in an old car. I said “hey you headed up town”. They said jump in. Turns out they where two guys from the electrical union and they where headed to volunteer as well.
We got to the center for volunteers and there where several hundred people in line. They where taking names and addressed and having you sign a different sheet if you had a skill like EMT or Engineer. I signed up and listened as the nice lady told people to go home and come back later when they needed more people. 44,000 people had come to volunteer.
Two dump trucks showed up and asked for laborers. I was not quick enough to get aboard but I heeded the point. Soon as the next Ryder moving truck showed up I jumped in. It was full of Evian water. A huge fashion show had been cancelled at the Javits center. Two Jamaican stage technicians where donating the water to the rescue effort. Five if us climbed in the back of the truck and began setting up the water for delivery by forming a human train. We got to the early rescue site and began unloading. People just popped out of no where to help and the work went quick.
The Salvation Army had a large support area and I started making sandwiched and getting them ready to be moved down to the front line. We loaded up a pickup with water and food and headed down to “Ground Zero”. As we past anyone in a uniform, from military to police to fire department or anyone covered in dust we tossed them cold water.
Once we got to the main area we unloaded in makeshift cafeteria consisting of two tables being run by the curator of the local service building. A guy came by asking for Ice for the triage unit and morgue, being set up in the building next to Tower one.
They had converted the next door Merrill Lynch lobby into the area where they where bringing any bodies in.I loaded ice and headed there with him. When we got there the lobby was a combination of medical teams, food volunteers and hundreds of firefighters and other rescue personnel.There are huge windows that they where breaking the remaining glass out of in order to make the area safer.
Amidst shattering glass and construction equipment sawing at the wreckage we fed everyone who came by.The day wore on and the stench of smoke turned to the stench of thousands of bodies at the end of a 90 degree day.We considered moving the food stations but there was really no where that had lights.
Twice in the day parts of the building collapsed. We grabbed the injured and fled like crazy fearing the entire 80 stories might collapse. The only bathrooms where on the third floor. It was freaky as there where no lights and there are long still escalators. The top was pitch black. I had a pen light from a convention that was scheduled to have occurred in the lobby.
I made a wrong turn and walked into a conference room that had the eerie expectant feeling of people about to return. The bathrooms had heavy fire doors so they stank terribly as there was no running water.
I have never seen so much food as wave after wave came in from the docks. I found myself by 2 am the only person manning fifteen tables piled high with every conceivable food item, from McDonalds cheeseburgers, to Gumdrops, to exotic vegetarian cuisine.
About that time I was getting pretty dead on my feet so I ask another volunteer to take over. I had serious sunburn, I ached from moving cases of water and standing on Marble for 18 hours and the smoke was starting to make it hard to see and breathe.
I wandered out and started walking north. I walked forty blocks till I got a cab. There where a group of yahoos at the police line with signs and tee-shirts cheering vehicles as the left the area, one even waved his shirt to me as I walked by.
Before going home I stopped at an Irish bar that stays open late for a beer. I started talking to a guy next to me who had not heard from several of his friends in the building.I turned to look at the TV when I turned back this guy has broken down in tears at the bar.
I held him in my arms and though I don’t really believe it I told him everything will be all right.