Anxiety Attack

There's a Whole Lot of News, But Not Much Information. Nervous?

Age 25
Resides Manhattan
Occupation Filmmaker

How scared are you about current events? Extremely. Until recently, I was living in Queens, and last week there was an earthquake there. First I can't fly, then I can't open the mail, and then the earth beneath me is falling. It's unbelievable. People talk about the World Trade Center attacks being like something out of a movie and it's true. It's that surreal. On September 11, I had people calling me and saying "What's going on?" Describing what had happened was like telling them that a friend had died. Today I was lost for a full 15 minutes. I grew up here and I'm embarrassed to say that I got lost. Without the towers to orient me, I didn't know where I was.

Are you afraid to fly? Yes, but there isn't any real place I need to go, so it's not an immediate problem. I would pay more for my ticket if I knew it was going to ensure my safety.

Have you made any changes to your holiday plans because of the war on terrorism? No. It's one of those things where I can hop on the train to get where I'm going. There's so much information out there. One e-mail about avoiding the malls came about the same time as another about Osama bin Laden mobilizing alligators to jump out of the toilets on a certain date. In general, I feel like I know enough. I don't want to jeopardize national security. At the same time, we should know if we're sending ground troops to Afghanistan, and we should be told about the people who are being held here in the U.S. I have family who were detained in the Japanese internment camps in World War II even though they were Chinese. It was just because they looked a certain way.

Age 41
Resides Bronx
Occupation Deliveryman

How scared are you about current events? I'm very nervous. If I didn't have to work, I wouldn't leave my house. I was sick recently with a headache and a stomach ache and my brother told me to go the hospital. Who knows if it's anthrax. Last week I took the subway for the first time since the attacks on the World Trade Center and wouldn't you know, there was a loud bang while we were underground. Everyone was in a panic. I almost got off at the next stop. Anybody could do anything down there. You don't have to go through any kind of metal detector and anybody walking the tracks could lay bombs there. I was walking downtown and couldn't turn around to look at the site. I just couldn't take it. I hope they don't rebuild. For me, to say "My mother was killed there," and to have a Bankers Trust building there would be too much.

Are you afraid to fly? Yes, definitely. If I have to go to China, I'll go by boat. Planes are out for me for the rest of my life. Never again. To be trapped up there so high would be terrible. I imagine what those people were going through. To get me on a plane now, you'd have to knock me out completely and put me in a bag and put the bag on the plane.

Have you made any changes to your holiday plans because of the war on terrorism? My family's in the Carolinas and we'll drive there. My father called after the Trade Center attacks and said to my brothers and me, "There's plenty of work here. Come home."

Age 25
Resides Queens
Occupation Youth counselor

How scared are you about current events? Basically, I go about my day. It's the news that's causing the panic. Printing how the anthrax is spread means that it will be read by any crazy person. The government knows more than it's saying. I'm not getting the information I need to feel completely safe. I feel like the same small bit of information is being given out over and over again.

Are you afraid to fly? I've always felt nervous about flying, so any nervousness I feel is not new. I don't like the bus either. I usually take the train.

Have you made any changes to your holiday plans because of the war on terrorism? No. I'll be working on the holidays. They're hard for people, especially for kids. You can't just take the day off.

Age 42
Resides Brooklyn
Occupation Activist

How scared are you about current events? I have no real fear of terrorism. I lived in New York City in 1993 when the first World Trade Center bombing took place, and it's still worth living here. I can't trust the United States government at all. There are three levels we're dealing with—there's anthrax, which is a response to the bombing of Afghanistan, which is a response to September 11. There are just layers and layers of distortion and bullshit.

Are you afraid to fly? Flying has always made me nervous, and there's no way to be certain that it's safe. Box cutters weren't seen as weapons until a few weeks ago. These people say they want the U.S. out of Saudi Arabia, an end to bombing in Afghanistan, and a homeland for the Palestinians. I think the government knew about the September 11 attacks, but thought the planes would just be hijacked and maybe a passenger would get killed. Now they realize they don't have full control over their operatives. We're working now with rapists and mass murderers. Syria is on the Security Council.

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