It’s not often that I share my own memory of 9/11. I might have recounted it at one time, but for whatever reason, it’s not a yearly thing for me to share.
I was working at a technical recruiting firm in Atlanta, GA at the time. Being the payroll administrator, I wasn’t chained to my desk all day and I had made a habit of visiting the café downstairs for breakfast every morning.
The ladies in the café liked to play their radio instead of the overhead speakers so they could hear the customers. It was a small, square thing with retractable antennas. I remember this because as I asked for my bagel, one of the women reached over and moved the long, silver protrusion to get a better signal. She turned and said, “They just said a prop plane ran into the World Trade Center. I didn’t think you could even fly near there. That’s weird.”
By the time I had paid for my food, the report came that it was not a prop-plane, but an actual airliner. I left my change, ran to the elevator and scared the pants off of the four people I worked with by flinging open the door and attacking our office radio.
“A plane has hit the World Trade Center.”
They stared at me with blank concern.
“I mean it. A giant plane with lots of passengers has hit one of the Towers.”
I finally finagled the radio to the correct station and there the reports were already growing worse. My boss at the time was a staunch Republican who began his mantra of the day, “This is an act of war!” I distinctly remember his drawl on the final word of his statement. Every time he said it, the word “war” lingered and it scared me.
We were all emotional wrecks. By the time we finally received word from corporate that we were to close the office for the day, we had all already gathered our belongings and were headed home.
I lived with someone at the time and we did not have television access at home, so I spent the rest of the evening alone in the living room listening to the radio reports. It took my then boyfriend almost three hours to get home in all of the traffic. The phone lines were jammed and I didn’t know where he was.
You might think that by listening to the reports and not watching all of the horrific visuals might create a disconnect with the events of the day, but I can tell you that it did not. By the time I finally watched the television coverage, it was like reliving the day all over again while everyone else had already numbed from that initial visual shock.
There are days in history where every person you talk to can remember where they were when it happened (Kennedy Assassination, Challenger Explosion, etc.). It’s one of those extreme and tragic events that leave a footprint on a person. A footprint shared by each and every soul.