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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Bridge and Tunnel

I worked late last week and took a cab home. My one small luxury.

‘Park Slope. Take the Manhattan Bridge.’

We rounded the corner, turning south. It was a Monday, but it was one of those perfect early summer nights and the sidewalks were overflowing with people. We turned left onto Canal and suddenly confronted a mass of cars ahead. There were flashing lights, and no one was moving.

The cabdriver cursed. ‘Brooklyn Bridge, we take the Brooklyn Bridge,’ he said. ‘What the hell is going on?!’

So we turned again, making our way further downtown. There were noticeably fewer people outside and the streets were dark. Eventually, we got to the bridge. We wound up the ramp, only to be stopped at the top by police on horseback. Cars were idling everywhere. Drivers opened their windows and dangled their arms outside.

‘Bomb scare,’ the cabbie said, ’Must be a bomb scare.’ Then he ranted long and hard about how the ramp should have been blocked off and that Guiliani should still be mayor.

I called Mark. ‘The bridges are closed,’ I said. ‘Can you turn on New York One and see what the subways are doing?’

It turned out that nothing had made the news. I called 311, the city hotline, but the operator was equally clueless. He forwarded me to the MTA hotline, which was a recording claiming that all trains were running on schedule.

Eventually I got on the D train, which was running fine. In the car, people were dozing after a long day. Others read magazines or listened to music. We emerged from the tunnel and chugged slowly across the East River. I could see the Manhattan skyline behind us, all lit up.

I wanted to tell everyone on the train what was going on. I wanted to say, hey, can you believe? They shut down two bridges. The traffic is horrible. Cops everywhere.

But the car was so peaceful. Everyone was so calm. I held my breath and stared out at the lights outside.