The Non-Expert

Clear and Present Danger

Experts answer what they know. The Non-Expert answers anything. This week we help a reader preparing for a trip to New York get over anxieties about terrorism, including tips on how to keep his Labor Day jihad-free.

Have a question? Need some advice? Ignored by everyone else? Send us your questions via email. The Non-Expert handles all subjects and is updated on Fridays, and is written by a member of The Morning News staff.


* * *

Question: I’m coming to New York over Labor Day and, I have to admit, I’m concerned about the possible terrorism there. I’m OK with being searched, but is there anything I should know before I get there? —Alan

Answer: It’s a fact that New Yorkers think—a lot—about what will happen should terrorists strike again. Our constant concern is hardly a secret, but our attitude about it is often hidden—we think about it when we’re in the subway, in tall buildings, on bridges, all the time. And while many here are fine with having our bags, pockets, mouths, etc., searched—it is in the name of safety, after all—we still have to wonder, what will we do if…

Well, here’s what we suggest, because we really do love tourists, and we’d hate it if you stayed in your hotel all holiday weekend and didn’t swarm our streets. Well, maybe.

Be a Buddy

You will find that speaking to your fellow passengers is a great way to make safe. If a catastrophic event strikes near you, the “buddy system” may be all that stands between you and certain annihilation. Should disaster hit, you and your “buddy” can:

—Keep each other calm and in control.
—Work as a team to solve problems/wind up in adventures.
—Repopulate the planet.

If, after talking to other passengers (start with the good-looking ones), you are still unable to find a “buddy,” rest assured that, should anarchy erupt, if you don’t make it and they do, they’ll be stuck with the guilt. So get out there and talk!

Be Informed

Keeping up-to-date on current events can alter your fate more than you’d imagine. Say you’re in the subway, standing next to an anarchist, a jihadist, what have you. Somebody who’s emitting a “ticking” sound, perhaps. It might be good if you knew the current marginalization of Sunnis in the development of the Iraqi constitution, or maybe it would be helpful for you to understand how international policy has brought terrorism to our and our allies’ doorsteps.

And might you want to offer any thoughts on the Gaza pullout? No, then…

Be Funny

Wrap an arm around the would-be terrorist, point to a surveillance camera, and wave to Allen Funt.

Be Prepared

At all times you should carry the following items:

—Eight (8) quarts of water
—Water purification tablets (in case you drop your water)
—A light sweater (for when the air conditioning/al Qaeda weather machine is up too high)

Be Cool

You’re at a bar on the Lower East Side. You are only a little tipsy, but you’ve just spent more on cocktails than you do on car insurance. All of a sudden, you hear a loud explosion. Hey—take it easy. It’s the out-of-town nilly who tries to organize an evacuation. Instead sit back, strap on your gasmask, and order another round. This time with straws.

Be A-lert

“The world needs all the lerts it can get!”

If taken prisoner, repeat this, over and over, to the interrogation squad.

Be Inoculated

And not just in case of a biological attack, either: It wouldn’t hurt to get your shots before you arrive: smallpox, heroin, distemper—the standard battery. Through years of exposure, longtime NYC residents are immune to all of these conditions, but that doesn’t mean we’re not carriers.

Note: As a general rule, don’t touch anything once you’re here.

Be Judgmental

When you first set foot into the city, you may be surprised to see how many people are clad in black head-to-toe. This does not mean they are terrorists—far from it! It means they are artist types and, just as in your own neighborhood, you should chase them out of your garage before they get into the oily rags in the back.

Though the same goes for terrorists, when you think about it.

Be a Sport

After all, you’re on vacation. Enjoy the sights, visit the Statue of Liberty. Or not! Just try and have a good time, despite whatever threats may loom around each corner, in every park, and actually in the sewers, so stay away from those as well.

And also Brooklyn. Steer clear.


Andrew Womack is a founding editor of The Morning News. He is always working on the next installment of the Albums of the Year series at TMN. More by Andrew Womack