Tuesday, September 11, 2001 was a warm summer morning as I rose for the work day. It was supposed to get hot. (It certainly would.)
A shower and shave later, I was glad I had left the A/C on all night for I was still sweaty.
School had just opened for the season and traffic suddenly choked off the main drag through town on my bus route, and I had an armful of work today. I needed a head start, but I didn't have my bus schedule. No matter - I had worked for over thirty years in lower Manhattan until relocating to an office in Midtown. Today, I would skip my usual bus into Midtown and take the PATH train into the World Trade Center where I had worked for years and knew the transfer trains to midtown by heart. (Those same transfer trains were also the way to Yankee Stadium and Shea Stadium.)
Had I not started early, my normal schedule would have had my train arrive between 8:20 and 8:40, with a nine minute foot walk to the uptown trains. Today, I arrived at about 7:45 (after the common train delays). But I made good time on foot and caught my uptown connection out of the complex at 8:00. I got to my desk by 8:30. (My job starts at 9:30.)
And minutes later, over the Wall St news wires, came the first shocking news: A jet flew into the North Tower of the World Trade center!
At this point, it was simply an incredible shock, although my mouth went dry as adrenalin choked me up. There had been plenty of foreign planes off course over the years and some of them had actually come close to hitting something, but they were all in minimal to zero visibility. Today, there wasn't a cloud in the sky!
Seventeen minutes later, the world changed when the second plane hit the south tower.
Now understand, my career is based on numbers, mathematics, statistics, and I dare boast an IQ above the curve, so the moment I heard a second plane hit, I announced, "It was an attack!"
Naturally, any number of reactionaries who disagreed with me said I was being callous, but amazimgly, when I announced I had to get word to loved ones that I was safe and sound, they did the same thing.
I began my call tree with my older brother, whose wife listened to police broadcasts as a hobby. He was at work, but his wife thanked me for calling and agreed that she would be "data central" for inquiries about me, and she was.
A TV was borrowed from a conference room to feed us news, but our micromanaging megalomaniacal lowest level manager decided that we must all disregard what we've seen and get some work done.
So I immediately went to my accuser and said, "And you called ME callous?"
I had words with "Captain Queeg" (as I labeled the micromanager), and unless he looked it up later, he didn't even get the reference (to "The Caine Mutiny"). Our relationship never recovered from this, but fortunately for most of us workers, "Captain Queeg" was transferred a thousand miles away within a year.
All the interstate bridges and tunnels were sealed from Manhattan, so it behooved us to get work done anyway. We didn't need to be told.
A senior executive announced early in the afternoon that anyone who could get home was free to do so, thus countermanding "Queeg" essentially, but with the crossings still closed, all we could do was try to work though the tears that were flowing freely from many of us.
Both towers had come down. Thousands were dead, thousands more injured, afflicted, and affected. Through TV, we learned of the other attacks, as well, but you can only be so numb, then the rest falls off you.
There were voiced demonstrations of hate, but it was mostly out of frustration.