-by Jon Cotton
I was home when the bombs blew some people apart. JR texted the news, and there followed a stream of concerned communications, so I updated my Facebook status to “Jon Cotton is perfectly okay.” To my sister I recycled Mark Twain: “Rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”
Online I found mayhem and speculation. My first reaction was to cry and become angry and want a fierce justice. My instinct still is to want to know who did it and feed my false sense that I can personally go out and punish them.
I think most of us take the bombings very personally, but this site’s sports columnist has more personal connections to the event than many of us. Before turning to martial arts, he was a competitive runner and a personal acquaintance of one marathon champion. His recent article on the marathon of 1982 understates his personal involvements, but personal experience is behind the condemnation he expresses in the article he wrote for his own home website.
I was off that day, but I worked yesterday, the day after the tragedy. In Boston there was every type of police. There were even official cars equipped with sirens and emergency lights which were not, apparently, police. The army was on the Common and here and there around town. I joked to the guests that “Maybe the British are coming again.” Streams of Homeland Security trucks slithered through the streets. There were tanks, or something like them, rugged, sharp-angled, black vehicles of steel, that said “State Police” in white letters. Orange and white Coast Guard copters hovered around town and flew back and forth east to west. There were officials with German Shepherds, and guns big enough to need both hands to hold. There were men whose Coats read “TSA” chatting with state police, state police chatting with city police, and in general every combination of official standing around together with dogs and guns. In the picture below the officer on the left is a city cop, the one on the right a statie.
At our main trolley tour stop there was a group with a dog and large guns, so I walked over and I asked “May I take a picture?” The man said “I’d rather you didn’t.” I said, “Okay.” Disappointed, perhaps for comfort, I asked “I can’t pet the dog can I?” He said “No.” I said “Thank you,” and embarrassedly walked back to my trolley. Later, stopped in traffic, there were two cops with large guns in front of the Taj Hotel so I shouted from the trolley, “Do you mind if I take a picture?” And one said, “You might as well. Everyone else is.” So I took this picture:
In addition to guns, tanks, helicopters, and dogs, there were hundreds of cameras near Ground Zero, around the hotels, and at the hospitals. In front of Mass General there was a group of cameras and a podium set up with a dozen microphones on it, waiting for an important speaker to arrive as I rolled past with a group of tourists from Australia and England.
Jingoistic slogans (“We can’t let them defeat us!”) moved guests to fork over respectable tips to some tour guides, though not so much to me, being, perhaps, a little less cunning and sharp-eyed to such opportunities than some of my coworkers in arms. But I’m working Friday!