Or so I thought. I’m a survey clerk with the U.S. Census Bureau Kansas City Regional Office. That day I was supposed to gather training materials for an initial training we had scheduled for the next week. As I gathered the supplies I needed, I chatted & joked with my supervisor about little things as I usually did. The sun was shining brightly, the sky was such a clear blue that it took my breath away. I remember thinking that this just seemed to be a perfect day. After I’d barely been at work an hour, our phone rings. Thinking it’s one of our field representatives checking in, I picked up the phone & gave my usual greeting. My best friend was on the phone and she sounded shaken.
“Turn on your radio & on-line messenger”, she told me.
I did as she said and as I slowly grew more aware of what was happening half the country away, all thoughts of training disappeared. I don’t know what I looked like at the time, but I guess I had some look on my face that prompted my supervisor to ask me what happened. I put my radio at the front of my desk & turned it up loud enough for her & our neighboring surveys to hear. What used to be business as usual now had a funeral-home feeling as word spread around the office. Our regional director walked through the office saying that anybody who wanted to could go to his office and watch the TV coverage for a few minutes at a time.
I remember looking out the window at what I first thought was a perfect day and watching a multitude of airplanes flying towards KCI. I remember that our assistant regional director, our automation supervisor and his coordinator were to have gone to a conference on the West coast that afternoon. I remember feeling disoriented, as if I had just awakened from a deep, long sleep. I remember my fellow clerks in shock.
I didn’t stay very long when I went to see what was happening on TV. I just couldn’t.
We were eventually dismissed for the day. On the way home I stopped by the grocery store. The Kansas City Star was selling special editions of the paper. I bought one not only to remind myself of man’s inhumanity to man, but also to preserve a paramount moment in our nation’s history. My niece was only 2 at the time & my nephew hadn’t arrived until 2 months later. When they study our nation in school, I wanted to be able to show them what Kansas City’s reaction to these events was.
It wasn’t until a few days later, when the passenger lists were released for the 3 planes that the Census Bureau’s New York Regional Office lost its assistant regional director and its automation supervisor(?) in the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania. They were on their way to the conference on the West coast.