“Be like a duck. Calm on the surface but paddling like the dickens underneath.”

~Michael Caine

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Seven years ago today...

I was 22 years old and living in Beaumont, Texas. I was managing an Office Max store and working the opening shift because I had a meeting to attend in Houston at Noon. The other managers would be covering the midday and closing shifts. The store had just opened and our first customer was paying with a large bill so, I was called to the register to make change. When I got to the front of the store, there was a small gathering of 3-4 customers talking with the cashier. The man waiting for change handed me his $100 bill, thanked me and said "Did you hear about the World Trade Center?". Of course I hadn't. There was a TV in the break room, but I was working. I said 'No.' He proceeded to tell me that a plane had crashed into one of the towers of the World Trade Center. At that point no one knew that it wasn't an accident. I thought to myself (at that time not knowing much about the WTC, or it's function) how terrible it was that all those people died. I remember feeling a little surprised that this is the first I had ever heard of a plane crashing into a high rise. It seemed like with the buildings getting taller that it was bound to happen eventually even with safety measures and precautions. I was extremely naive.

Ty and I were living together at the time and I asked him to drive me to Houston (a 2 hour drive) for my meeting. The meeting was at a Hotel near the George Bush airport and he was much better at navigating and maneuvering through traffic than I was. He wasn't doing anything anyway and I hated driving alone if I didn't have to. He called (Ty NEVER calls me at work) not long after the man who had informed me of the WTC situation had left. He sounded strange, so I asked him what was wrong. He went on to explain to me that he watched another plane hit the 2nd tower broadcast live on the news. I (again being extremely naive) thought to myself, that it was weird that 2 planes hit 2 buildings right next to each other in the same day.

It's wasn't long after that that we brought the TV from the break room up front to the registers. We were pretty much glued there for the rest of the day. All air traffic was grounded. I called my boss to ask if we were still having the meeting. I thought for sure it had been cancelled because it was on airport property. He said that it was still on. So Ty took me up to Houston. I was on the phone with my family almost the whole way talking about the day's events up to that point. For me it was scary and unknown. I had not been very interested about worldly happenings and didn't really care much about the news. I lived in a little happy bubble that I thought would never burst. Naive. When we arrived in Houston, the airport was a ghost town. This is a strange sight to see when you drive into one of the busiest international airports in the world. I attended my meeting and Ty waited patiently for a couple of hours in the car. On our way home, we heard about the first tower collapsing and by the time we got home the others had fallen too.

This was the first time in my life that I remember trying frantically to understand how someone could do something like this. Over the course of the remainder of the week, the death toll rose. There were blood drives and food drives and clothing drives. After a while, the media announced that the blood donation centers were at capacity and that there were few survivors to speak of; no more donations were needed. The final death toll rose to 2,974. Two-thousand-nine-hundred-seventy-four mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, daughters, sons, fiancees, and friends lost. For what? To this day, I still can't wrap my head around it. Nor do I want to understand why some person some where thought that this would be a good idea. There are so many opinions about the story behind the events that took place on that dreadful day. From a government cover-up conspiracy to the terrorist and al-quaida. Whatever it is, it doesn't matter. Human life was lost that day. Everyone lost something that day. Every one's life was forever changed. Children will grow up without their mommies or daddies. Mothers and Fathers will not become Grandmothers or Grandfathers. I don't need to explain...

I was not there. I didn't lose a family member or friend. I lost my naivety. I am forever changed by that day. I will forever be thankful for the life lesson. I will forever be grateful for the things I have. And, I will never forget.

In memory of all that were lost on September 11, 2001.

1 comment:

mommy/abby/beebee said...

I never realized that 9/11 had that much of an impact on you. I do hope, though, that you have realized that there is true evil in the world and how to recognize it so that you may be able one day to help avert such a pernicious act of violence.