The Worst Thing In The World

Cliff Pervocracy just published an interesting post on the concept of “The Worst Thing In The World”–TWTITW–and how what you think is TWTITW is never TWTITW. And it immediately reminded of something very intensely.

One of the most vivid TWTITW experiences I have had in my life was being in downtown NYC on 9/11. And once the towers came down, I and kajillions of other people were walking away from downtown in various directions in a state of shock and feeling like TWTITW had just happened. And I remember very clearly, I went into a bank ATM lobby to get some cash, and was afraid that the whole world had ended and there was no longer any such thing as money. So the machine gave my money, and there was a woman in there who also got some money. And we both finished at roughly the same time, and I reached the door just before her, and so I walked through the door and then held open the door for her. And as she walked through, we made eye contact, and it was very vividly apparent that we were both thinking, “Hey. It may seem like the world just ended, but we just had a human interaction based on the concept of courtesy. So maybe the world hasn’t ended.”


  1. F says

    And yet some people like to treat 09/11/01 as the worst thing that has ever happened anywhere. Others just like to play it that way.

    Same with the attack on Pearl Harbor (which was certainly an awful thing, too, but this is how one conducts a war ffs). And both are treated as a complete surprise from left field that had no possible inciting incidents in which the US was involved. It’s like they are living in a partial vacuum.

    Never mind the victim-by-association gambit that gets played.

  2. rq says

    It’s so easy to get into arguments about what, exactly, TWTITW is with other people, but they lead nowhere because it’s all a matter of experience and interpretation and relativity blah blah blah… Happens a lot in my community. I think it has something to do with wanting to be the Person Most Deserving of Awe and Sympathy and therefore Attention.

  3. says

    I imagine that for us sheltered types, a visit to Somalia or Ethiopia to watch people starve to death and nothing you can do, would be up there. One reporter – I can’t remember name but won a Pulitzer – committed suicide after watching a tiny child dragging herself to find food.

    Of course, that would assume a normal amount of compassion. The other type think Obama getting elected qualifies, or, if Survivor AND Big Brother both got cancelled at the same time.

  4. fuckesatonne says

    Yeah, those piano players on the Titanic were pretty fucking civilized. So were the guys who let the women and children board the lifeboats first. Civilized, AND courteous.

    Then they died.

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