See Something, Say Something

by Marinka on September 14, 2010

NYC has an anti-terror See Something, Say Something campaign, and mass transit has a kazillion posters encouraging us to report suspicious activity to the proper authorities. I’m all for this kind if tattle tailing, of course, and often wonder if I could report my upstairs neighbors’ cooking fish dinners to the proper authorities.

But just like the teenagers who know the risks of drunk driving and yet fall for the staged, “hey, I’ve only had a dozen beers, I’m good to drive!” and get into the car with the “drunk” “actor”, I have a hard time applying this to real life.

Because this morning as I got on the subway, I noticed a green canvas bag in front of an empty seat.

“Is this yours?” I asked the two Orthodox men sitting near it.
“No, no, bubeleh,” they told me. And then they encouraged me to SIT DOWN on the empty seat in front of it.

Because I know that “unattended bag” is one of the things that we’re supposed to be on the look out for, I was obviously concerned. For one, I was worried that there was a hidden camera, that the Chosen were actors and that at any moment John Quinones would leap out at me and ask me why I endangered the City of New York and civilization as we know it by not reporting the unattended bag? Did I not know that if I saw something, I should say something? Did I think that it wasn’t my responsibility? Did I assume others would do it for me, as they’ve done things for me my entire life while I sat on the couch and watched hours of mindless TV?

And for two, there didn’t seem to be any proper authorities to report the bag to. I mean, I could have gotten off at the next stop and alerted the transit agent, but what if they took the whole train out of service while the police inspected? Many people would be late for work!

The other people in the subway car suddenly became interested in what I was going to do, where interested means sneered at me with disapproval.

What the fuck, fellow riders?

You think if this bag’s going to blow, you’ll be spared?

Obviously reading my mind through some kind of Jew-on-Jew ESP, the rabbi laughed.

“It’s not a bomb,” he told me. “Don’t worry, a Chinese lady left it!”

Ohhh! A Chinese lady!

I sat down and got to my destination safely.
I really hope that NYC has a back up plan to the whole See Something, Say Something plan.

One year ago ...

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

September 14, 2010 at 9:34 am

All joking aside, I did call the cops a few weeks back when I saw a duffel bag on the median at Broadway and 82nd — well within this-thing-could-blow-up-my-apartment distance.
Maybe it was nothing, I didn’t stick around to find out.
But there were cops, and yellow tape, and a fire emergency special thingymabopper truck.
I felt like a fabulously responsible citizen….or a big waster of NYer’s tax dollars. Take your pick.


Katie Bug September 14, 2010 at 11:42 am

In DC during the sniper shootings I totally called the police on a box truck that was hanging around my college campus, you know, during the time that we were told to be on the lookout for a box truck when it turned out that we should have actually been on the lookout for a sedan. Afterwards, I felt at once like I had done something good and unabashedly paranoid.


September 14, 2010 at 12:10 pm

Great. Now you just TOLD the terrorists exactly what they need to do–hire Chinese Ladies to leave their bombs on subways. I hope you’re proud of yourself.


September 14, 2010 at 1:10 pm

Sophia lived in Israel for ten years, and she is a little paranoid about unattended bags. A few months ago, we saw an unattended bag in a Panda Express fast-food restaurant in Redondo Beach, and she was all worried. And my first thought is “What stupid terrorist would choose a Panda Express in Redondo Beach as a target?!”

But now that I know this Chinese lady scenario…


Meg D September 14, 2010 at 2:29 pm

Thanks to the MTA’s cuts of station agents, who are you supposed to tell anyway? The AM New York newspaper distributor outside the station? What if it’s after 10AM? These are my questions.


September 14, 2010 at 4:17 pm

Did you smell it? It could have been chicken chow mein or something. Mmmm…


Awesome dude September 14, 2010 at 4:52 pm

Half of the Indonesians look Chinese and 90% of them are Muslims….


September 14, 2010 at 6:12 pm

So true. Who has time to be a hero? I feel sad every time I pass a homeless person or someone passed out on the street. The other day I walked passed a guy that looked dead. I considered calling 911 or 311 but I had to get home to walk the dog and relieve the babysitter. NY hardens you and you’re just always looking away 🙁


Abbey September 14, 2010 at 7:48 pm

I just hope the chinese don’t decide to attack us.


Jen September 14, 2010 at 8:57 pm

Recently I was in New York and I saw an unattended bag. I thought about saying something but then I realized that most New Yorkers were looking at me with scorn for taking a sight seeing tour on a big blue bus so I just kept it to myself.


Fragrant Liar September 14, 2010 at 9:07 pm

And how did you know the rabbi was on the up and up? What if he was part of a conspiracy — in cahoots with the Chinese bag lady who may or may not, in fact, exist . . . I’m just saying, who can you really trust on the subway? 😉


marathonmom September 14, 2010 at 9:36 pm

See, in the south? You just rent a You Hawl and fill it up with fertilizer.

Its SOOOO hard to be paranoid with 50 differnt states.


the mama bird diaries
September 15, 2010 at 10:02 am

I’m on board with the plan. A few months ago, i saw a random bag lying in the middle of grand central station. I reported it and police responded. I believe I saved all those commuters from a pair of dirty sweatpants and a People magazine that were stuffed in the bag.


Karen at French Skinny September 15, 2010 at 11:21 am

While waiting to be picked for jury duty, I spotted an unattended bag.
I stood up and yelled “Excuse me! Does this belong to anyone?”
Everyone just stared.
“Stand back everyone! I’ll get help.”
No one moved. Then a policeman meandered over and said, “Those are some books for people to look at while you are waiting.”
Really??? In an unmarked BAG??
Thank God I wasn’t picked for jury duty.


ShallowGal September 15, 2010 at 12:27 pm

I try to live my life like John Quinones may pop out from behind a bush. (Meaning I no longer leave the house without mascara)


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