There was a minor bomb scare in Times Square over the summer and of course David Reilly was in the middle of it.

To start, in case anyone is unfamiliar with Times Square, here are a few facts, so everyone is up to speed.

  • Times Square is famous for its electric, neon and illuminated signs including Coca-Cola, Toshiba and the curved NASDAQ sign. Each of these signs uses more electricity annually than at least 9 former Soviet states.
  • Every New Year’s Eve, approximately one million people gather in Times Square to watch the famous dropping of the ball. Indigenous New Yorkers believe that if the ball fails to drop all males born over the following year will be born with undescended testicles.
  • Formerly named Longacre Square, Times Square was renamed in April 1904 after Lord Alfred Times. The legendary patron of the area’s many theatres and brothels passed away the previous November in an unfortunate accident involving a prostitute, a kite and 15 quarts of Doc. Von Vigour’s Virility Tonic. These items were later referenced in the closing segment of an episode of “Kenan & Kel” in 1999.

“Man up and fuck that hooker!”

I worked in Times Square nearly every day of the Summer, but probably the most unusual experience happened on a night I wasn’t working. One night I was visiting some friends who worked in a store in Times Sq. I was in the store, chatting to a friend, when there was an announcement.

“We have been informed by the NYPD that a suspicious object has been discovered on the street. Welcome to America, tourists.”

Okay, so I added that last bit.

The police ordered everybody to get behind police lines on either 42nd or 49th St. While this was going on I was in the shop my friends worked in. There was an announcement over the speakers: “All those who wish to leave must do so now and run directly toward 42nd.” I decided to take my chances by staying in the store. I had a feeling that if I were to run, the moment I did, the bomb would explode. I’m self-centred like that; thinking that some terrorist organisation have designed a bomb that would only detonate when a short, sun burnt Irish guy runs past.

Standing, looking out the windows of the store I could see the police lines, with hundreds of people gathered, looking towards the suspect device and the men tasked with defusing it. It was less counter-terrorism, more sadistic spectator sport. They’re watching a person literally risk his life by attempting to defuse an explosive. If they manage to do it, they’re a champion of the people, a saviour to many. If they fail however, parents are left having to wipe bits of person of their child’s face as the child stares blankly at the space where, only moments previous, stood a human. Everyone in the crowd was shuffling to get a better look at the field of play. The children were wearing replica NYPD Bomb Squad jerseys with their heroes’ names printed on the back. You could see dads talking to each other about the greats. The dads were talking to each other about the greats from past squads, some of whom never made it to retirement because of a bad day in the office.

Sick.

Of course, if there’s regional bomb squads like the NYPD and LAPD squads, there’d have to be a national team, right? And if there’s national teams, well, there’d have to be a international competition.  Obviously a bomb disposal world cup would be a little unfair initially. The stronger countries would inevitably draw a weaker squad; Team USA versus Team Portugal, Team Israel versus Team Greenland. The later rounds would throw up some real doozies. The Irish squad would be considered one of the weaker squads but they’re still very well thought of after a strong run in the 70′s and 80′s. I can’t imagine the EA Sports series being much good though. I’m not too sure they’d be able to make choosing between a red or green wire all that enjoyable. (Yes, I am reducing the bomb squad’s job to simply having to decide which of two wires should to be cut for the sake of a comedic hypothetical. ) Perhaps a relay format would work best. One team lined up on the left, the other on the right, with each team member taking it in turns to defuse part of a larger bomb. If one team member makes a mistake, BOOM, the whole squad gets turned into human confetti. Sudden death in its most literal form.

The NYPD announced that the evacuation order had been lifted and the people went about their business taking pictures of billboards. People were uncertain about what had happened; Was it defused successfully? Maybe it was a false alarm? And if so would that then count as a bye for the bomb squad? Because we live in the future, I was able to check to see if anyone on Twitter knew a little more. A news account was reporting that the suspect device was, in actual fact, a shopping bag containing some clothes. Some people criticised the NYPD for over reacting, but they were merely doing their jobs treating a reported suspicious object with the caution required. However, the person who saw an idle shopping bag and immediately thought “This is definitely something I need to call the bomb squad about” should ease the fuck off watching so much 24.

“I’ll teach you to leave shit behind!”

Because of him, a member of the bomb squad had to carefully approach the bag while the thought that he may never see his wife and kids again playing in the back of his mind. He gets to the bag only to find five “I ♥ New York” t-shirts and a calendar of street signs. Someone clearly put the bag down in order to take a better photograph of the 50ft Kodak advertisement featuring a celebrity taking a photograph themselves. They then absent mindedly walked off without it; an easy thing to do when all of your senses are being bombarded by the beast that is Times Square. If a person can’t leave a bag of tacky shirts on the ground in the middle of the one of the busiest intersections in the world without having to worry about them being mistaken for a terrorist device, I don’t think this is a world I want to wake up to anymore.