I can’t ever forget what I was doing on the morning of that fateful September 11th, 2001 . . . I was trying to get away from a strange man who wouldn’t leave me alone.
At the time, I was 18 and working at Macy’s. I was on the merchandising team so I started work at 6 a.m. in the morning. I was wide awake and on the selling floor doing my job to make the merchandise in the Men’s Department look organized and ready for purchase. Unfortunately, a member of the crew that was renovating the department store, decided that his morning wouldn’t be complete unless I agreed to go out with him. Again, I was 18. He had to be at least 40.
I made my way over to my manager to let her know that I couldn’t work in that area anymore because this man wouldn’t leave me alone, no matter how many times I told him to. With frustration, I let her know the deal. She told me to just tell him to leave me alone and just continue working. I did as I was told, hoping he had disappeared by the time I got back. No such luck. I sulked and was peeved that I was having the worst morning ever, but I made up my mind that I wouldn’t be subjected to dealing with his pushiness any longer.
I went back over to my manager, set to tell her that I was going to work on her side of the store for the rest of the morning, but when I reached her, I heard her telling someone, “A plane, just hit the Pentagon – at least 50,000 people are dead.” In my head, I wondered what the heck she was talking about. But curiosity (and a need to get as far away from that man as possible) took me upstairs to the employee break room. I remember looking through the glass windows of the break room before I entered and seeing a huge group of employees staring at the large tv screen. I’d never seen that many employees in the room all at once during working hours and I went in to see what had everyone’s attention.
After taking in the complete silence and horrified looks on their faces, my eyes drifted to the tv screen. On the screen I saw the burning buildings and then I read the description that made it clear that it was the World Trade Center in NYC – a place that I’d been inside of only 2 weeks before. Surreal is the only word I can use to describe the feeling I had as I floated to the HR office to make a call.
My mother worked 2 blocks away from the World Trade Center. The station she exited after getting off the train in the morning was right across the street from those towers that were burning on the tv. I’d exited that station many times myself.
When I reached the HR office, I saw a woman hysterically crying because she couldn’t reach her daughter who worked in on of the towers. My heart nearly stopped. I asked if I could use the phone and I tried calling my mother who had went into work that day. All the lines were busy. I was in college at the time and was supposed to attend class after I got off work – I knew I would not make it to class that day. I didn’t bother to inform my manager that I was leaving – I grabbed my things from my locker and walked to the bus stop. All I knew was that at the time the first plane hit, my mother was most likely exiting the train station. For all I knew, she could have been dead and I needed to go home and wait for a call from her in case the worst possible scenario hadn’t occured.
As I stood at the bus stop, I saw fighter planes flying over head. People nearby were murmuring that the end of the world was definitely here.
I reached home and I’m sure I tried contacting my mother again, but honestly, I was in such a zombie-like state that I can’t even remember. Fear had gripped me in the core of my gut and all I could think was “What if my mother doesn’t come walking through that door today?” Calls kept coming in on my house phone from relatives and members of my church trying to confirm that my mother made it home safe. I answered those calls and stayed glued to the television as I sat on the floor in my bedroom. I felt helpless. I felt sad. I felt depressed. I wanted to cry so bad, but I couldn’t. I was completely in shock and awe and I was angry too. Extremely angry.
Alas, my mother came home and I went to the front door and hugged her so tight. She was suprised at the squeeze I enveloped her in. I told her that everyone was calling to see if she was ok. She smiled and said that she was fine.
Later she told me that she felt her office building sway to the side when the first plane hit. She could literally look out of her office window and see the fire and the hole in the building. Her office was told to immeadiately evacuate. My mother stayed in the office to call my grandmother to tell her what happened. Later that night I cried and cried and cried for all the people who jumped out of the buildings, all those who got crushed, all those in the planes, all those who lost family and friends. I felt for EVERY one of them.
To this day I don’t think anyone who wasn’t there could fully comprehend the seriousness and pain of that day.
On the morning of September 11th, 2001, I thought that a persistent man asking me out on a date was the worst thing ever – a total disruption of my life at the moment. To know that my life would’ve been forever disrupted if I’d lost my mother on that day, makes me realize that every day I need not sweat the small stuff and that I should be grateful for the grace that God has given me day-by-day.
Rest in peace to all those who were lost and I pray for peace in the hearts of every family member, friend, and human being who has been affected by the events of that day.