I normally don't like to write about subjects that may cause controversy. I'm an introvert and don't really care to draw attention to myself. However, there are a few things I believe in strongly enough that I throw the introvert into a temporary holding cell and stand up for the things I believe in. What you are about to read is not politically, religiously or militarily motivated. It is a simple recollection.
11 September, 2001.
I was in my late twenties, living in a small apartment, single (no surprise there) and two years into my dream job as a fleet mechanic at the courier company (see my "career blues" posts). I woke up a little earlier than usual on that day, about 13:00, so I decided to turn on the TV until it was time to leave for work. The first thing I saw was a news broadcast. I saw a skyscraper with smoke coming out of it. I didn't bat an eye and was looking for the remote so I could change the channel when I saw the subtitle. All I saw was "...New York..." My brain didn't process that information right away. I imagine that I was slack-jawed and wide-eyed. Once my brain had processed what my eyes were seeing I was glued to the TV. I figured out it was the World Trade Center that was burning, that a whole lot of people had died, and were dying, then the loop started over. I watched the airplane crash into the building and could not believe what I was seeing. As the video footage replayed over and over I just sat there trying to comprehend what in the world was happening. Eventually I started to come back to my senses and heard little snippets such as "terrorist", "air traffic being grounded". By the time I put together the basic story I realized it was time to get to work. I had a 55 minute commute to think about what I had just seen and heard. The radio was on the during my drive and I absorbed every detail. I was scared.
When I got to work I saw Rob just as I entered the shop. The radio was on. He had heard everything since things started happening, but hadn't seen anything on TV yet. When I walked in, we just stared at each other for a solid minute. It was one of the few times he didn't salute me when I walked in. He didn't say anything, I didn't say anything... Everyone was in shocked disbelief. I don't remember anything else about that day except that it was eerily quiet overhead. The shop was only a few miles from a mid-sized airport and after some time I noticed there was no air traffic overhead. Normally there was a lot of airplanes overhead since the shop was below one of the most used approaches to the airport. Dispatch was chaos. They were trying to figure out where all the drivers were, all but the most important routes were being cancelled, the guys in the warehouse were trying to figure out how to sort all of the stuff that didn't get delivered... When I got home that night I, somehow, managed to fall asleep.
In the days, weeks and months after that awful day, routine started returning to something resembling normal. The most noticeable effect was the lack of air traffic. We just couldn't get used to how quiet it was. Every now and then the silence would be broken by F16s of the ANG. The news coming from the east coast was heart breaking. The sheer size of the catastrophe caused such a block in communications that people didn't know if their loved ones were alive or dead for weeks and weeks.
As usual, hindsight is 20/20. I can look back on 11 September, 2001 and say that it was the day where my life changed. Less than a year after the disaster the courier company had set in motion a plan to convert routes from company drivers to independent contractors. That meant my days there were numbered. I also became "old" after that attack. Despite being in my late twenties, up until 11 September, 2001, I was overly happy and care free. Things were going good locally, nationally and globally. Overnight, that happiness was gone like the wind. Life would never be the same again. I don't have to tell you why.
I'm not going to go through any more details about the aftermath of 11 September, 2001. They're well documented. I just wanted to share my story of that day.