Thursday, July 19, 2007
"Steam Pipe Explosion Unnerves Manhattan"
For 30 minutes we all thought the worst had happened.
Sticking our heads out our office windows, my colleagues and I looked north along Lexington Avenue and saw that Grand Central Station and many of the neighboring buildings had disappeared behind billowing plumes of smoke. The growing pitch of sirens and the steady stream of people below played to our worst fear that somewhere behind the white cloud lay something that every New Yorker had been silently dreading for the last six years. Had Grand Central just been bombed at the height of rush hour?
Three other coworker friends and I grabbed our stuff, shut down our computers, and quickly left the building. When we were outside we joined the throngs of people looking north towards the unfolding scene of disaster. People had said they had seen an explosion of rubble. Someone said a building had collapsed. A man next to us had left his office so quickly that he left his phone behind. Those of us who did have phones whipped them out to take pictures or call loved ones. I managed to call my parents and tell them I was okay before phone service crapped out from overload of callers. For those 30 minutes we all wondered if we were experiencing a replay of 9/11.
We walked along Second Avenue for a while before coming to a bar that had the news on. A crowd three deep of people gathered around the open windows for answers to our fears. Information had just started to come in that it was not a terrorist attack but a steam pipe explosion. Relieved yet still shaken, we found another bar where we steadied our nerves while drinking successions of bourbon and Johnny Walker Black.
False alarm. Heart rate returned to normal. I held up my glass of bourbon to my friends and toasted their company during the crisis. "To life," I said and we all drank deeply.
Photo from nycmoments's stream on Flickr.