Magazine article Medical Economics

Why a Lab Delivery Drew the Bomb Squad

Magazine article Medical Economics

Why a Lab Delivery Drew the Bomb Squad

Article excerpt

Why did the parcel have no return address? Why did the delivery man leave it without ringing the bell?

Police cars cordoned off my street as I left my mid-town Manhattan office one day last October. An armored vehicle marked "Emergency Services" parked directly across from my building, in front of the Women's League for Conservative Judaism and the Ivory Coast Mission to the U.N. Either could have been a terrorist group's target, I mused. Perhaps there had been a bomb threat. I heard nothing about a bomb on the news that night, however, and forgot about the incident. But the next morning, a staffer from the Women's League phoned me with distressing news. "Yesterday, a box for you was delivered to us by mistake, under suspicious circumstances," she said. "It had no return address, and a delivery man left it without ringing the bell. Naturally, we thought it could be a bomb-the delivery man could have been a terrorist-so our receptionist called the bomb squad." Of course-a bomb! That would have been my first thought, too.

"Did the bomb squad destroy the package?" I asked.

"No," she said. "They agreed it looked suspicious, but they inspected it and concluded it was harmless. It makes us nervous, though. Please come and get it out of here."

I raced across the street and apologized profusely for something we both knew was not my fault. The package had been sliced at one corner, right through the cardboard and packing material. I clearly saw plastic specimen containers and glass tubes inside. The "bomb" was nothing more than a lab delivery, although no firm's name appeared on the box, and it was addressed merely to "Finkel. …

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