The Breakfast Table

Bouncing Around


Picking up on yesterday’s theme, I would really like to hear what you have to say about the future of Social Security–but not if you would rather discuss something else. This exchange feels like a friendly tennis rally where we may not always be prepared to lurch for the ball. Consider this a lob falling just on the other side of the net. If you don’t feel like rushing to return it on one bounce, I promise not to hoot and thump my racket.

Today’s dailies all prominently reported the gruesome death of a young woman pushed by a schizophrenic from a subway platform on 23rd Street in front of an oncoming train. As you know, Manhattan is a small town of millions. The most freakish events happen to people who look exactly like someone you know, and they prove that your fears, however irrational, may not be so crazy after all. It’s no different from watching Greek tragedy, really. “I hope this is not a sign that crime is making a return,” said Sylvia Zimmerman, a 65-year-old Manhattan woman interviewed by Long IslandNewsday. Poor Sylvia had stopped riding the subway 10 years ago after a mugging incident, and had only just worked up the courage to get back on a train when a terrible thing happened. Now she and (how many thousand) others will be reprogramming their self-protection software to beep not just when lights are too dim, or streets too empty, but also when someone walks too closely behind them on a subway platform. I’m not criticizing Sylvia, mind you. That alert signal’s been in my own self-protection program for quite a while.

And did I hear correctly that Chicago is now the murder capital?

Your serve,