I was working at my part time job in a shop in the summer of 2001. I was about to start university in a few days time and my parents were preparing for their holiday in Greece.
I was working the all day shift, from 10am to 8pm. Around about dinner time, I received a phone call from my father asking if I had heard anything on the news. I hadn’t, explaining that we just played a CD in the store. He said that a plane had hit the World Trade Centre in New York. I suppose at the time I didn’t really envisage the enormity of it.
A few seconds later, my colleague’s partner rang with the same story. I just remember her saying down the phone ‘you wouldn’t believe it, I have been there and stood in that lobby’.
A short while after that, my dad called again and explained that another plane had hit. I remember thinking that there must have been a terrible mix up with air traffic control or something. My father uttered the words ‘someone has suggested it’s a terrorist attack’ and I instantly felt sick.
The most bizarre thing about the whole event was that as it happened, I saw nothing. We had no televisions in store so all the news I had came from other people’s accounts and from the radio. The shop went deadly silent Normally during the week we would be busy all day long. But as soon as that plane hit it was like nobody left their homes.
I remember driving home that night, listening to the same song that had been playing when I’d parked my car that morning. I had found a Greatest Hits CD from a pop group called East 17. One of their early tracks I quite liked was called ‘Gold’ and the lyrics were ‘life is worth more than gold, we don’t need it do we?’. I remember thinking even though it was just a pop song, how true and poignant it was. The people who were going to the World Trade Centre that day were going ultimately for their ‘gold’, to make their money. But given the choice of going to work or living, then there would be no choice would there?
Later that night I finally watched the awful images that had been caught on tape. No version of events from other people, no great description could have prepared me for what I saw. It was a thousand times worse than I had expected. People hanging from the windows of the twin towers, waving any bits of material they could lay their hands on to try and been seen. The ironic thing was, the whole world could see them and at the same time the whole world was helpless.