Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Caffeine Jolt

"Nearly ten isn't ten." (David Brent, The Office)

"Did you hear that thunderclap?" asked the wife, in the early hours of Monday morning.

"That wasn't a thunderclap darling," I responded, momentarily impersonating Jim Taggart,"...that was an explosion."

And so began my involvement in arguably the most serious terrorist incident on American soil since 9/11. Blissfully there hasn't been much competition.

Now rudely awoken, I opportunistically jumped at the chance to take a much-needed pee, noticing the time on the TV's cable box as I did so. It read 3:46am.

Although I didn't know it at the time (it sounded considerably further away to be honest) someone had tried to blow up the local Starbucks, situated no more than 100 yards from our apartment.

Just a few hours later I'd find myself at the epicentre of the investigation, giving the police vital evidence, assisting their enquiry and helping to bring the perpetrators to justice.

I resent paying $4 for a tall skinny latte as much as the next person, but I've never felt suitably aggrieved to blow up a Starbucks.

Instead I prefer to execute my own form of commercial terrorism by opting for the cheaper and better alternative of Dunkin' Donuts. And no-one gets hurt.

As I headed across the road just before 10am to watch the Championship play-off final, Third Avenue was already clogged with a mix of scary-looking forensic investigators, FBI agents in ill-fitting suits, TV newshounds and curious onlookers.

Should I go to the trouble of informing the police that the bomb exploded at 3:46? I decided it was probably best not to draw attention to myself; after all, many criminals like to return to the crime scene to gawk at what they've done.

I relaxed in the knowledge that surely someone closer to the blast site would have told the police the crucial time, but then again perhaps in their rather shocked state they'd crucially failed to look at their watch? Or perhaps their watches had been blown off?

The ongoing news stories were merely stating that the blast occurred in the 'early hours', and then later on and more accurately, 'between 3am and 4am'.

Vital police work was surely being wasted by such a wide potential timeline, yet thanks to my timely pee, I knew exactly when the bomb was detonated.

As I returned to my apartment block, the lobby was abuzz with conspiracy theories of varying ridiculousness.

One resident argued it was bound to be someone aggrieved at Starbucks' treatment of third world coffee growers (apparently they've been targeted on this issue before).

I continued meanwhile to argue it was probably the price of the sandwiches, overlooking the fact that Americans don't do irony.

Feeling sleepy from a cheeky beer enjoyed to toast Burnley's deserved triumph, and with both kids taking their own concurrent nap, I asked the wife's permission to take one of my own (she's a terrifying woman you see, so I need to ask).

As I drifted off to fond memories of Charlton's own play-off joy in 1998, I was awoken to the sound of the doorbell, and the wife scurrying to the door.

"We definitely heard it..." she said, presumably speaking to a curious neighbour,"...it was sometime between 3:30am and 4."

"Well, we certainly appreciate the information Ma'am," someone replied in a deep male voice,"...sorry to have troubled you."

Suddenly realising that it wasn't a neighbour but infact one of the FBI's finest, I sprinted to the front door momentarily forgetting that I'd removed my t-shirt to have a more comfortable nap.

"It went off at 3:46!" I insisted with a bare-chested enthusiasm that clearly unnerved him, "It was definitely 3:46!"

"That's pretty darn accurate," he replied, sizing me up either as a potential suspect, or a suitable case for detention under the American version of the Mental Health Act.

Slightly delirious from my brief slumber, I then tested his humour by asking if he had enough evidence to arrest my wife as a 'person of interest'. Fortunately he laughed, but unfortunately he didn't take her away.

Now awake but with the kids still asleep, I put my t-shirt back on and popped back out to run a couple of errands, bumping into the same cop as he continued his door-to-door enquiries.

"Did you write down that it was 3:46?" I asked with a slight hint of desperation in my voice.

"Most people agree it was around 3.30am," he replied, with a conversation-ending abruptness.

Remembering perhaps my favourite line from 'The Office', I smiled and confidently assured him, "....3:46 isn't around 3.30."

Now angered at his obstinance, and with the perpetrators slipping ever further from the FBI's grasp, I stepped out and took a deep breath of the warm spring air, comforted in the knowledged I'd done my civic duty.

Those "Plucky Piss-Taking Brit Foils Evil Terrorist" headlines could wait for another day.

STOP PRESS: "Police Commissioner Ray Kelly says an explosive-like device, possibly containing fireworks, went off outside the store at 3:30 a.m." (Fox News)


At 7:22 AM, Blogger Suze said...

Not an Office fan then?

CNN have the reported time as 3:25am...

At 12:08 PM, Blogger Chicago Addick said...

It wasn't all a dream was it?

I read about that bloke, think his name is Winter or Summer of something, that is visiting every Starbucks in the world. He was getting very flustered at the thought of them being closed, but blown up? Blimey, he must be pissed about that :-)


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