I just walked back to my desk from the Red Cross in Lincoln Center. The streets have very few cars in them. In Times Square, vendors are selling paper easels holding two pictures of the Twin Towers — first the towers on fire, then the smoke plume left after they collapsed. Other vendors are selling out of oil paintings of the (now old) New York City skyline. In a bizarre touch, there’s confetting raining down on the Square from some deposit left over on top of some building, caught in the breeze.
I interviewed about fifty people today, helping them fill out their applications to volunteer for the Red Cross. They ranged from the helpful and non-freaky to the, well, freaky. And, it’s true, the Red Cross is inundated with bags of useless clothes after every disaster. An important part of the job, it seems, was thanking everyone nicely so that they’d still be interested in volunteering tomorrow, or next week.
The Red Cross is an incredibly well-run organization, and it was a real privilege to feel like I had something useful to do all day. Tomorrow, I’m gonna go back for a four-hour training in something called Shelter Operations and Mass Care, then I’ll probably work in one of the shelters around the city. I figure that [My employer] won’t be back on track for a couple of days.