What I did on 9/11 and 9/12/2001

I am lucky. Many people did more and sacrificed more, but I think my story is still worth hearing.
  1. I was working in White Plains,NY(just outside NYC). The company did what for these purposes we'll describe as reliability engineering as consultants for various public utilities.
  2. Intellectual Analysis
    Someone mentioned a plane had crashed into the Twin Towers. Live TV was not yet on the Internet yet, so we huddled around an AM radio near a window. I also searched if any final webcam images were still online.
  3. A History There
    Someone said it was a small plane, I wondered if it was not that at all, but one of the high voltage transformers throughout the towers. I had helped get them back up and running in 1992 after the first attack(truck bomb in garage), so I knew the buildings.
  4. Our structural and fire protection experts
    Our structural and fire protection experts came by, heard what had happened and INSTANTLY knew how that day would end.
  5. It Gets Personal, or Now This Shit Gets Real.
    Then my cell phone rang. It was my brother. He had just left the World Trade Center subway station and wanted to know why bodies were falling all around him. In retrospect there are two miracles here. That he survived and that his call went through immediately. My vision literally narrowed like that weird foreground/background effect used in films.
  6. Move
    Parroting what our experts had just said, I implored my brother to get to the Brooklyn Bridge immediately and walk off the island of Manhattan.
  7. He stays put.
    My brother insisted on going to his office to share my warning(admirable), but wait for everyone to leave(dumb). They were not handicapped, they were all able intelligent adults. He had kids to live for, he should have left.
  8. .......and
    He finally got back down to the street, but at exactly the same time as the first tower collapsed. Covering my brother in that white dust.
  9. He made it.....
    Eventually he made it to the Brooklyn Bridge, walked across and caught a commuter train, full of people like him, back to his town on Long Island. No charge for that trip.
  10. 9/12/2001 My Story
    The next morning, when I got to the office in White Plains, the engineer in the cubicle next to mine, was on the phone with a client whose equipment was destroyed near Ground Zero. He needed him to come down and get a duplicate system up and running near Ground Zero.
  11. Me too, Me too....
    I was not asked to go, I volunteered to go down with my office mate.
  12. The Battle of Bedford Falls(it's a Wonderful Life)
    Some of my friends have fought wars or are first responders, not me. I felt like 4F George Bailey running the salvage drive during WW2. So I had to serve when the opportunity arose. I HAD to go and use my skills. I HAD to.
  13. First Stop Hardware Store
    We bought a pack of painting masks.
  14. White Plains Train Station
    National Guard(I presume) patrolling a suburban train station with machine guns. Never saw this before or since.
  15. Grand Central Station
    More armed National Guard, now a fixture there.
  16. We took a taxi to 23rd street? Maybe 14th, don't remember.
    Below that line, there was only official traffic. We walked the rest of the way.
  17. 3 or 4 police/military checkpoints
    We walked south through multiple checkpoints, each with stronger security. Eventually we got to a point where only our names on a list(sent by our client), got us through.
  18. We walked down the middle of Manhattan's wide avenues, no traffic, few people.
    We now wore two overlapping dust masks. The ultra clear "September in NY " skies were now clouded with dust and smoke. We made periodic calls to the office, they then called our families to say we were OK(fear was a new emotion for Americans).
  19. Blue Meanies
    I always remember Washington Square Park as loud and animated with NYU students, performers, skate boarders, and music.
  20. But now.....
    Washington Square Park was absolutely silent, but still filled with students. It reminded me of the silent colorless people after they are attacked by the Blue Meanies from the Beatles' Yellow Submarine.
  21. We make it.
    Eventually we got to our client's facility and did what we needed.
  22. Muslim Client
    Our main contact and client happened to be a Muslim. He ate, slept and worked for 4 days in that building until he was sure he wouldn't be "picked up" at a checkpoint.
  23. We climbed to the roof and saw Ground Zero obscured in dust and smoke.
  24. The train back
    On the train, I commented to my co-worker that I don't think our clothes picked up any smell. A woman sitting across from us thought we were talking about her. We weren't. The unfortunate woman and her husband had been evacuated from their apartment near Ground Zero and were each wearing a random selection of mismatched "rich people clothes" like a bad day for the Howells from Gilligan's Island. I assume these people landed on their feet.
  25. We were thanked at work, but little was said after that.
    I sat at my desk and did almost nothing for the next week. One person lost a neighbor, another a cousin. Many people's relatives survived also. I couldn't handle the day to day stress of that job and left about a year later. I now do less for more money. In fact that company full of 500 super talented people was eventually purchased by a giant company of less talented people and slowly dissolved. Somehow that makes sense to some people, not me.
  26. October 2001 21 Murders
    I went to high school in New York City and the school has an active alumni and development office. The Fall 2001 Alumni Newsletter had pictures and bios for the 21 or so graduates that were murdered on 9/11/2001 by jihadists. I dropped the newsletter in shock it never occurred to me that so many victims could be from one place. I wouldn't touch it again for weeks until I could control myself enough while reading it. Most of these people were fire fighters who sacrificed themselves for us.
  27. Thanksgiving 2001 A Gift of a Flag
    I gave my brother(remember him) a copy of The Gadsden Flag. This was before the Tea Party coopted it. It is a glorious symbol from our nation's early history of "Hey Asshole, Back the Fuck Off !".
  28. California Friends
    One of my childhood friends had moved to LA and was(is) doing well in TV. When I discussed these events he was dismissive, saying it was just another excuse for a war. That really hurt, but I think it illustrates that people either "get this" or they don't.
  29. Summer 2002
    While dropping my son off at day camp, another parent had a bumper sticker saying "Inside Job". Life isn't a Norman Lear sitcom so I didn't get out of my car and yell and come to some sort of mutual understanding with that asshole. This is a picture of that sorry person that values horrible order(our leaders slaughtering us) over the chaos(crazy jihadists)that often is life.
  30. I live in a suburbs, next to a park with a monument memorializing several town residents also murdered on 9/11/2001.
    They used steel from the buildings. It has benches, a fountain, and walking paths. I walk it a few times a year.
  31. The 5%
    A cursory survey shows about 400 high schools in NYC. 18 of the 343 fire fighters killed were from my one Catholic high school. That's about 5% from just one school. That's 2000 % (20 times) higher than average if it was spread equally and I believe one other Catholic school lost more, so that's more than 10% from just two schools. That is a community that has given more than its share to the City. Not enough is said about that.
  32. The More You Know
    The 9/11 Memorial and Museum at the World Trade Center is a wonderfully emotional and educational experience. Everyone should go there.