Trainspotted – What Just Makes Me Kind of Nervous


I find it nearly impossible to write anything in the wake of the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.   I avoid TV news, but every time I  look at the paper, or read news online (many times a day), grief is renewed.

But here is one story that occurred to me this evening – and please note in reading it that I have huge respect for first responders, police (most of the time), soldiers.

It happened on a cold night approximately eleven years ago, shortly after 9/11, when my daughters and I were seeing one of their close friends (then in his early teens) onto the New York City subway system after a dinner in Chinatown.

Just as we got to the head of the Canal Street subway stairs, a school bus pulled up beside us filled with GIs.  Mainly men, some women–all wearing camo, bullet-proof vests, and carrying at their chests very large  (presumably semi-automatic) firing arms.  In a close-cropped line, they quickly trotted down the bus steps and then, just in front of us (we stood back), down the subway steps.

There were actually two school buses, i.e. a lot of soldiers.  A lot of big guns.

I asked one young woman as she swung by us – “what’s happened?  What are you hear for?”

The answer came without a trot-break–“we’re here to protect you.”

I thanked her.  And with a series of  nervous (and slightly guilty) looks at each other, the kids and I decided that this was not a good subway station for their friend, and walked up to the next station on the line though it was (a) several blocks further from his destination; and (ii) required us to walk along the side of a very dark and slightly menacing street park.

We did not avoid that station because I dislike GIs.  (I actually rather like all the young U.S. soldiers I’ve ever met.)

What I did not, and do not, like is the idea of myself (or anyone I care for) being on a subway car with someone carrying a large semi-automatic gun, much less two or three or more people carrying such guns.

I don’t even like that situation when the gun-toter is someone anxious to “protect” me.

Call me silly.



(P.S. For all NYC’s problems it has relatively strong gun control compared to the country as a whole.  Of course, it is difficult for New York to keep illegal guns from being imported from other states due to lack of greater regulation around the country.  Nonetheless, I’m sure the laws we have make some difference.)

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7 Comments on “Trainspotted – What Just Makes Me Kind of Nervous”

  1. claudia Says:

    that reminded me of a situation years back, i was driving in the car with a friend and it was dark and foggy and suddenly the street was packed with army vehicles and tanks (most probably a training from an army station that was not too far away) but i was terrified just by the sight of it (even though i knew they are here to protect us – it didn’t really make a difference) so i totally understand this k.

  2. brian miller Says:

    it is hard to wrap your mind around something when it is consumed with the thoughts of little kids being killed…of all the things that could have gone different…i am not watching the news right now either and if another special report comes on i turn the channel…i am done writing about it for now and finding other thing to write on..i feel you, even if its for protection it is quite daunting…

  3. Mary Says:

    It definitely is hard to think beyond that scene when all those little children were gunned down…. I definitely feel what you are saying here…about being in the presence of so many weapons. I held in my hands a handgun (ONLY a handgun) for the first time in my life last summer. I was shocked how HEAVY it was. I just can’t imagine some of these other weapons people get their hands on.

  4. janehewey Says:

    The nervousness you express is entirely sensible.I was a patron in a drugstore during an armed robbery about ten years ago. I remember standing right next to the man with the gun, looking him in the eyes (accidentally) and thinking.. I hope all of us, including you, get out of this unharmed.

  5. You’re absolutely so right, it’s taken out the Christmas spirit within and out!

  6. cloudfactor5 Says:

    Reminds me of the first time I saw troops carrying assault rifles in Grand Central Station, definitely made me a little nervous

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