So, today is the West Indian Day parade, which takes place down the major boulevard in my neighborhood and is generally one of the things I look forward to the most about the end of the summer. Today, though, I can't go, as I'm about to head back out on the road for a week and a half. (Fear not, as my apartment is guarded by the superstitious paranoids next door and my robotic cat.)
Instead, I went down to Duane Reade to pick up some items to help me with a long flight in the middle of our government's War On Moisture. (Towelettes, cough drops, the like). When I turned back up my block, a cop stopped me.
"Do you live on this street?" she asked.
"Yeah, I live here." What was going on? I wondered. An accident?
"Can I see some ID?"
"No, I don't have any with me. Why?"
"We're only letting people who live on this street go through. What's your address?"
I gave her the street number. "What street?" I repeated the name of the street we were on. "Cross streets?" I told her.
"What's going on?" I asked.
"Extra security for the parade," explained her partner. "We want to make sure no one's walking through here with a bomb or anything."
I just stared at him. "Extra security? I've been living here for seven years," I said, "and I've never seen these streets get blocked off for the parade." (Mind you, at this point we were a good five or six blocks from where the parade route goes.)
"Well, you know, 9/11?" he said sneeringly. "It changed things."
I wanted to note that I hadn't seen it change things in 2002-2005, inclusive, but I have a plane to catch for work and I really couldn't risk getting picked up by the NYPD without ID on me and missing my flight. So I just said, "Look, I know you're just doing your job, so I'm not gonna make an issue with you, but this is stupid," and walked away as they laughed. There were no more blockades as I walked closer to the parade route.
Now, don't get me wrong, there are always a lot of cops on the street for the West Indian Day parade -- there are a lot of people out, many of them drinking, and some crowd control is a good thing. But blocking off streets -- and, again, these are streets within hearing distance of the parade but a good five-ten minute walk TO the parade -- and saying that it's "because of 9/11"? As I said to Terri, who used to live down the block, "of all the targets on al-Quaeda's list, the West Indian Day parade is not one of them."
All I can say, as I try to decide if it's more worth it to me to wear my orthotics and not have foot pain or to put them in my bag and spare myself the five minute quiz at security about what I have in my shoes, is thank God the terrorists haven't taken away our freedom, right?