Amy Bowers TV Talk

You May Already
Be a Victim

Your kids could be shot. The Mall might blow up. You're powdered with anthrax.

First class anthrax arrives in newsrooms. The US Postal Service says to watch out for mail that's handwritten, lopsided or lumpy in appearance.

In early September I picked fresh sage from my home in New Mexico and sent it to a news staffer in New York, with a note: crush the sage between your fingers. My package arrived after 9/11 lopsided, lumpy and suspicious. It triggered a security alert.

The Postal Service says, don't handle a letter or package that you suspect is contaminated. I don't want to think about this. I'd rather think about tamales.

At Canon Air Force Base in New Mexico, something dripped from a suspicious package. The investigation revealed tamales.

In the North Valley of Albuquerque, a police helicopter dropped down to make a sudden stop in a parking lot. It was a donut run to Krispy Kreme. The incident gave the locals something different to talk about.

Late in October the first two American soldiers were killed in Pakistan and the morning shows were interested. I flew to Cheyenne, Wyoming, to book a live interview with the family of one of the dead Army Rangers.

I took a carry-on bag and a nasty I consider a "purse." Both bags were hand checked by a security guard who confiscated my manicure scissors.

I was one of two passengers selected at the gate for another search. "What's happening," asked the other woman whose name was drawn, "this is my first time."

An airlines agent went through absolutely everything, trying every zipper and zip-lock. I thanked her, feeling vaguely patriotic, then rushed on the plane, feeling vaguely apologetic.

I changed planes in Denver, climbing into a dark little tube lined with 20 seats. "I hate commuter flights," I cheerfully told the passenger across from me. "I've never been on one this small," he said. "We'll bounce," I predicted. A windstorm nearly tossed us out of our tights as my travel buddy grabbed the seat in front of him and managed a smile. It was only turbulence.

On the terra firma of Cheyenne, I took the road past East High School to visit to the family of Ranger Jonn Edmunds. His Mom and Dad were home with his teenage brother, kid sister and some cousins. His young widow was enroute. They were holding up under unspeakable grief. I asked them whether they'd speak their sorrow on national television.

They said they'd think it over. As I left, Donn Edmunds, a three-tour veteran of Vietnam, told me, "hug your kids."
I waited. That afternoon powder was found in a mailroom at the Wyoming Army National Guard. It was not anthrax.

I waited some more. People in Cheyenne are friendly. There are parking spaces that aren't metered. The tap water tastes really good, and even the pawnshops are family-run and kind of gentle. The edge of town drops off quickly, yielding to wind-tormented ranch land.

The day before the funeral of twenty-year-old Army Ranger Specialist Jonn Edmunds, his mother Mary and his widow Anne did our live interview on Good Morning America by satellite uplink from Wyoming. Donn was there to watch and reassure with his steady presence. Mary brought Jonn's cub scout picture. Anne read the last note he left on the fridge before he shipped out.

I offered condolences and thanks, and headed home.

The airlines agents in Cheyenne did gate security. The woman who issued my boarding pass and checked my ID later inspected my carry-on items. She said she didn't mind doing the security work. I asked her about looking through personal items. "I really don't see them," she said, "there are certain things I'm looking for."

We had a go-around on our approach to Albuquerque. The pilot pulled up on final, not terribly sharply, and turned. "There's nothing wrong with the plane," he told us. Just a light aircraft in the wrong place. It wasn't scary. It was just a missed approach.

I went home and hugged my kids.

Amy Bowers
Contributing Writer

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