Just weeks before my 24th birthday I woke up at 3 am (5 am in NY), took a shower, got dressed, climbed into my 1993 Ford F-150 and headed across Albuquerque, NM to work. I was an assistant manager at Walgreens drug store and this morning was our warehouse delivery. Our store didn’t open until 8 am (10 am in NY). The store manager arrived shortly after 6 am, myself and two others had been there for over an hr. At around 7:30 am (9:30 am in NY) our head cashier arrived for work, the employees would come in the stockroom door on delivery days since they knew we were back there. The head cashier was born and raised in Mexico and her English just wasn’t that great. When she came in she said something about buildings being destroyed. We asked for clarification, and all we could really understand was something about airplanes and buildings.
The the 5 of us offloading the warehouse truck stood there trying to make sense of what she had said, but couldn’t. The store manager left us to continue and went to our break room where there was a TV. a few minutes later the store manager returns to the stockroom and tells us that terrorists had crashed airliners into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and that there were multiple other planes unaccounted for.
We left the stock room and went to the break room where The news was broadcasting a live shot of the World Trade Center. The towers were on fire, and they were showing video of people jumping. Re-playing videos of the aircraft striking the towers. My heart sank, chills ran all through my body, and my knees got weak. Then, the first tower collapsed. There wasn’t a noise in the room except the gasps of breath and the sound on the TV. Maybe 15 min later an announcement came over the PA that I had a phone call, it was my fiancÃ©e calling, her classes were cancelled and she was watching the news in her living room. We were on the phone when the second tower collapsed.
The hours past very slowly as I had a job to do, the store had almost no customers that day, and we all spent way more time on the phone that day with amity than we had before. Every one of us was back and forth to the break room all day, and probably didn’t get much accomplished. At 3 pm (5 pm in NY) I ended my shift and went to my fiancÃ©es house where her mom and her brother were, they both left work early. We watched at tower 7 collapsed. I picked up the phone where I called the local recruiting office, and discussed me returning to active duty (I had been discharged just over a year earlier due to medical complications). They said they would get back to me. We sat on the couch the rest of the night, watching the remaining events unfold, and watched as President Bush gave his address to the nation. I’m not sure I slept at all that night. I got the call back the next day from the recruiter.