A Manhattan morning. I hurried down the sidewalk, checking my phone and my watch, dodging cars and strollers and people. The sun was bright. Men in yellow hats drilled through concrete. A bus stopped, tires screeching. A kid sobbed, yanking his mother's arm, collapsing to the ground. The aroma of fresh-baked bagels spilled from a storefront.
I kept going. But then there were lights. Furious and flashing. I saw red. The red of fire trucks. I stopped. Others stopped around me. We stood, a medley of strangers, looking up. Together, we stared at the long ladder stretching up to the top of the building. We didn't speak to each other, but shared the same space and likely the same questions.
What happened? Will everyone be okay? Why am I stopped?
After a few minutes, I kept walking. And wondering. Why do we do this? Why do we stop and stare? Is it because we are cruel or just curious? Is it because beneath it all - the clothes and gadgets and efficient smiles and smirks - we are all the same? Do we realize when we see red that it could be us up there needing to be saved, needing for that ladder to reach us?
And why does it take an accident or a fire to make us stop moving, to make us gather together on the cosmic corners of our world?
When you see an accident or a fire do you stop and stare? Do you think we are wired to do this? Do you think there is anything wrong with doing this?