Thursday, September 13, 2012


There is no point here. This is merely a recollection.

I was sitting in a cube farm under fluorescent lights in a three-story, glass-plated office building at I-435 & Holmes Road, my thoughts buried in responding to an RFP when my email icon flashed. Shannon wrote, "Are you watching this?" "Watching what?" I replied.

Light, uncharacteristic buzz began to float about the office. We had one meeting room with a TV about 20 yards away from where I sat. I was a consultant and was dedicated to my work, but the buzz overcame me. I succumbed for the first time to some decidedly non-Hawaiian-shirt-day hoopla. The room down the hall was standing room only. Each of the chairs was occupied, and a small crowd filled all available gaps as we stared at a 29" screen watching Couric and Lauer narrate the event.

After a few minutes thinking, "Wow, what a tragedy for the pilot," I returned to my desk. I had lost focus. I thought it unprofessional, but I opened a new browser window – back then, accessing the web during work hours was considered highly unprofessional – to keep half an eye on all the hubbub, and continued on with my work. Still, the image of the black cloud wrapping around the first tower filled my brain. This wasn't an accident.

Another email from Shannon. "They cleared the streets around the State Department. They're saying there's a car bomb parked in front."

I walked with purpose back down the hall. The room – once filled to near capacity – was overflowing at this point. I nudged my way in deep enough and just in time to watch the second plane hit the second tower.

"This shit is real," I thought. "*That* was no accident!"

As much as I wanted to stay focused, I couldn't. Within a few hours, I found my boss and explained my situation. "I'm going home. I have to know."

I had a batch of VHS tapes to record shows like Friends and ER. As soon as I arrived home, I popped in the first of many T-120s and rewound it as I queued up the TV to record NBC.

Four days later, I emptied the local Walgreens of its remaining T-120 video tapes and recorded everything I could up to tape #33.

Conan, Letterman, and Leno went silent. MLB and NFL games halted.

This country hit Pause.

Looking back, worse than the shocking images of innocent lives lost, failing architecture and an ash-covered Ashleigh Banfield, the things that stand out again and again for me are the actions of the NYPD, NYFD and Port Authority first responders who saw what was happening and, discarding family, relying on trust from members of their units, and relying on their training, rushed forth into those buildings. Full of gear equaling the weight of a few small children on one's back, they climbed *dozens* of flights of stairs searching for people trapped up above. And at least 343 of them died in the process.

The receptionist at the office of Cantor Fitzgerald was a victim.

The little league coach / air conditioner repairman who strapped on a heavy coat, helmet, oxygen tanks and a mask and ran a short marathon to save him or her while hearing nothing but panic and confused orders from his radio was a hero.

R.I.P. all who didn't live to see Wednesday.

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