The Last Old Day

The businessman leaned back in the taxi heading for Boston and his afternoon meetings. The morning meeting had gone well on this Monday, and getting to see Pettitte pitch the Yankees past the Red Sox on Sunday had been pretty sweet, almost enough to make the over-the-weekend trip worth its cost in time and effort. Of course, better not to mention it to his Boston clients, they would have been cheering for the Red Sox. He thought about his family back home; good luck he caught a foul ball from the game to give Tommy, unless he gave it to Amanda; his daughter pitched better, anyway, so maybe he’d need to buy something for whoever didn’t get the ball from the Yankees game. At least his wife should enjoy the gift he got her from Tiffany’s. Still, he’d still need to balance things a bit more; he had those comp tickets to the preview of something called “Monsters, Inc.” by Pixar, and if it was as good as “Toy Story” had been, the kids would love it. But that meant he’d have to find one more thing for Miranda. Well, maybe Boston would show something worth his money.

The weather was great, clear and warm for the early fall. That was good, thought the man. After a long trip, he wanted a nice easy ride back home, and the weather promised no worries. As the taxi turned onto Church Street, he looked, as everyone did in passing, at the World Trade Center when the cab came up to Vesey Street. He had to admit, it was an impressive sight, the sort of permanence that reassured folks about the future of New York, and the greatness of America. You just didn’t see hundred-plus story towers in many places.

The man mentally shrugged, and turned his attention to the newspaper. Giuliani was on the stump again, promising – again – to improve schools in his town, which seemed to be what every mayor promised these days. Bloomberg and Badillo were saying stupid things about each other in a primary showdown; the Democrats were smart enough to let the Republicans tear each other down. There was an article about another Arab in Israel blowing himself up in order to kill another seven people – thank God that sort of thing didn’t happen here, the man thought to himself. Barry Bonds had hit three home runs in Denver yesterday, putting him just seven short of McGwire’s record – that guy was simply not human. There was a story about Air Tansat pilot Robert Piche landing his jet in the Azores with both engines out to save the lives of over three hundred people, but followed with allegations of maintenance negligence and error by the pilots. The man found himself sympathetic to the pilot – it’s hard enough to face a crisis, without having every decision challenged, but then again, if he’d been a passenger on that plane, he’d probably still be upset and looking to blame someone. The businessman sat back in his seat again as the taxi left New York City by way of the Brooklyn Expressway.

Turning his attention back to the paper, the man read an editorial lambasting the Bush Administration for its “National Energy Strategy”; the President seemed to think that America depended too much on foreign oil, and he wanted to depend on domestic resources. Of course, that would mean drilling close to home, in Alaska and maybe the Gulf. Maybe, maybe not, the man mused. In the long term it made some sense to get away from depending on foreign sources, but the Arabs had not caused trouble for a long time, and as Clinton had shown, they needed America, too. They wouldn’t provoke us, so we should be careful not to provoke them.

He put down the paper and worked on his laptop during the rest of the drive, thinking only of his business for a time. Four hours later, the cab turned right off of Exit 18 to Soldiers Field Road, and he began to close up his papers and mentally prepare for his afternoon appointments.

Later that evening, the man thought about his family from his hotel room. He was too tired to call home tonight; maybe he’d just call from his flight tomorrow. He’d have to find out; would they let you use your cell phone from the plane? He checked his ticket; American Airlines, Flight 11 out of Logan Airport. Well, that should be easy to remember – Flight eleven, leaving on September 11. That seemed a sign things would go well.

Sandy Berger
No one discusses the donkey in the room