Monday, September 11, 2006

I Didn't Have A Cell Phone Yet

Surprisingly enough, many civilized people didn't. But I had a pager, and carried it around all the time. I had been laid off in the spring and needed to be notified of temp assignments at a moment's notice. And then if the two of us were out together, we would have our calls forwarded to the pager.

On the morning of September 11, I had set the alarm for 9 AM. I had an interview with a headhunter at 11:30 and figured that would give me enough time to pull myself together.

At 8:45, I was awakened by the phone ringing. Once.

"I forgot to take the forwarding off," I said to my groggy spouse. "And I turned the pager off."

"They'll call back."

"What if it's a temp assignment? They'll think I'm unreliable." I got out of bed, took the forwarding off the phone, and turned on NY1.

"Oh no, the World Trade Center's on fire." They were saying a plane flew into the building. Drunken pilot, I thought. Private planes do that a lot. Although that hole looks too big for a private plane. I wondered how they would fix the hole.

I went into the kitchen to make coffee. When I came back, the other tower was on fire.

"Oh look, the fire spread to the other building." But as I became more awake, it dawned on me that the other building was a tad too far away for a fire to leap. Then I heard Patrick Kiernan on NY1 say something about a second plane.

And then: Sirens. Nothin' but sirens.

I didn't have a blog back then. Surprisingly enough, many civilized people didn't. But almost everyone I knew had e-mail. And as I ran to the computer, I was transformed in an instant from unemployed person to war correspondent.

We found out later that the 8:45 phone call had been from a neighbor who worked at the Equitable Building, across the street from the South Tower. He called us after the first plane hit, and everyone was looking out the window of the conference room. And then everyone in the building ran screaming as the second plane came straight at them before banking and hitting the tower.

That was one story that day. We would hear dozens of others. And today, I'm reading hundreds.

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