NOTE: The following blog post contains nothing about hockey.
Everyone remembers where they were when the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001 took place.
I was lucky. I didn’t know anyone who died. I didn’t know anyone who knew anyone who died. And yet, for everyone it was a sad, sickening, gut-wrenching experience. The bubble had burst. The warm glow and feeling of safety that enveloped us was gone.
I was just out of college, on my way to work and running late, when I saw a coworker on the train. She told me about the two planes hitting the World Trade Center Towers.
I got to work and the two conference rooms were jammed with people crowding around the small TVs in each room. People were on the phone, calling our New York office–which was far from the Twin Towers–to make sure that everyone there was OK.
I went to CNN.com, and couldn’t load their website. After 10 minutes of trying, I finally saw some grainy footage of the second hijacked plane hitting the tower. I tried to find out more–were more planes hijacked? Was Chicago in danger?
Management at my old job didn’t seem too concerned about what was going on. My supervisor, noting that the small conference room was full, decided that we should take our weekly status meeting to the Starbucks across the street–never mind that there are a million other things on our minds right now.
Even worse, one of the owners sent out an office-wide email, reminding us that if we let the recent tragic events distract us too much, then the terrorists have won.
Given our relative proximity to downtown Chicago, around 10:30 AM CST our building was evacuated. The train was packed–everyone in and around downtown was sent home early.
I got back to my apartment and turned on the TV. That is when I started to feel sick. Up until that point, I didn’t realize that people had died or were wounded or still trapped. The only evacuation I’ve ever participated in were school fire drills, and everyone makes it out alive in those. I felt guilty. I started to cry.
There were no flights in the United States for a week. Living in a large city with an international airport, you are so used to airplanes flying overhead that–like your own heartbeat–you don’t really notice or think about them until they are absent.
A week later, I was walking home, and then I heard a plane fly overhead. I was startled. I froze. Things were back to normal. And yet, they would never be the same.