I will never forget the sequence of events I experienced on the morning of September 11. I was at work (in Orlando) at my desk when a co-worker next to me said that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. My immediate thought was that a small private plane ran into some problems and crashed. “Very unfortunate,” I thought to myself.
About 5 minutes later my wife called me from home and asked if I knew about the plane crash. I said I did, and suddenly she said, “Oh my God, I can’t believe what I just saw! Another plane just crashed into the other tower!”
She was distraught, as she should have been, and now I knew we were being attacked by terrorists. I calmed her down while co-workers wandered around in a state of shock, trying to find out whatever they could from each other. I can assure you that from that moment on not a stitch of work was completed.
Then it hit me. My wife is a flight attendant for Delta. Luckily she was off on September 11. She had one more trip left before she went on maternity leave. Not anymore. She would not be flying on that last trip. No way! But I got a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. What if she had been on a trip? I wouldn’t know if she was on one of those planes; if she had been one of the flight attendants who got their throat slashed. The thought made me sick to my stomach.
“Thank you, God. Thank you for making my wife safe.”
Then the news got worse. The Pentagon was on fire, and another plane was reported to be hijacked. This couldn’t be happening. Not in the United States. Not to us. And then another sickening thought hit me. My sister and her fiance live and work in Manhattan. My sister works uptown, but what if …
I immediately tried to call her but couldn’t get through. All circuits busy. I called my mother, who also lives in Florida, and fortunately she had just gotten off the phone with my sister. She was alright, and so was her fiance. Her fiance goes to school at NYU, and had been blocks away when the second plane hit. He saw the impact with his own eyes. He was on his way home to my sister. He was shaken up pretty badly, but he was alright.
Tears filled my eyes as I looked up and said, “Thank you, God. Thank you for making my family safe.”
And now self-preservation mode kicked in. What if this was WWIII. I needed to protect my wife and unborn son. Should I buy a gun, a gas mask, food, water? Should I leave work immediately and do it now? Would my sister be safe in New York? Would my parents be safe in South Florida? Would we be safe in Orlando?
A million thoughts raced through my head. And then I witnessed the most horrific thing I’ve ever witnessed in my 36 years of life. A TV had been set up in the break room, and we all watched in horror as first one, then both Towers fell. I can’t describe the sadness, the feeling was too intense to justify in words.
I left work immediately to be home with my wife. “Call in sick for your next trip,” I pleaded. “Don’t worry about your paycheck.”
I didn’t need to plead. She wanted nothing to do with airplanes on this day.
As the day wore on, I experienced profound sadness, fear, and then most of all, anger.
Those bastards. How could they do something like that? Just when I thought the world was becoming a more civilized place.
Later that day I went to the gun store and looked at Glocks. I never bought one. Maybe I should have.