The guy who tried to blow up this latest airplane, his dad called our embassy to say, “My son is missing. He’s gotten some wacky ideas in his head. Look out for him.” Was this an agonized act of love, or a furious slap back at a wayward child? The guy’s family had lost contact with him. No phone calls, no emails, as he studies overseas. Were they desperately worried? Were they suspicious? Did they think he might be a good kid gone bad, or did they consider him a bad seed from the start?
How do you throw yourself at a person trying to set a plane on fire and force him to stop? I’m sure not everyone felt or acted so heroically. I think I would sit frozen in my seat, and just try not to breathe or pee on myself.
About a month ago, this kid with Asperger’s in New York City got scared because he had messed up at school. He decided to stay on the subway, rather than getting off at his usual home stop. He rode the subway for eleven days straight.
Is his survival and safety, after eleven days, evidence of the safety of New York City and the subway system? I felt a little silly for walking home after midnight all those nights, a little silly for getting nervous when I was the only person at my midtown stop. Or is his uninterrupted journey evidence of the obliviousness of humanity? How could a boy in such distress be ignored by so many people for so long? Shouldn’t someone have pointed the unwashed, zombie-faced kid out to a cop or a conductor?
Just a few more questions. The subway kid’s family put up fliers, searched for him, as you would expect. You still wonder: what kind of parents does the kid have that make him so unwilling to go home? Or is he just a messed up kid, messed up like any kid could be, and wearing an additional weight of emotional and mental confusion?
I broke up with my boyfriend last week. First I froze and sweated and panicked like someone was trying to blow up my airplane, and then I zoned out like I was riding the subway in loops, underground, alone, lost.
Security isn’t in any kind of movement, or transport, or harness, or x-ray scan. There is security in questions. Questions, especially those without answers, keep you flexible and working. If I care enough to ask any questions, I am interesting to myself. Being lost is very similar to exploring. The only difference is that when you are lost, you are no longer curious about anything but how to get home. “Lost” is actually exploring, minus curiosity, plus panic. Shake well.
Security is in curiosity, and also in knowing people who would call the embassy on you. People who will pat you down if you try to set yourself on fire. You need somebody to put up fliers all over the subway. You need someone to notice that you are lost, even if you have to find your own way back.
Detroit suspect’s family:
Subway riding boy: