Banner photo of Larry Eugene Meredith, Ronald Tipton and Patrick Flynn, 2017.

The good times are memories
In the drinking of elder men...

-- Larry E.
Time II

Sunday, September 11, 2011

And Then...

I was on the computer at home, not particularly unusual for me in the morning. It was somewhat later than a normal Tuesday though. For most of the Tuesdays for 21 years prior to that one I would have been sitting at a desk at work by 8:30 AM. I wasn't this time because I had been "retired" the week before.

I was putting together some information about my career for an outsourcing meeting I was to have later in the day.

At some point I was skimming the web when a headline popped up. It said, "A plane has accidentally crashed into the World Trade Center in New York City."

How odd. I figured it was a small plane, some private jet gone astray. I left the computer and went to the living room and flicked on the TV. I didn't have to search for news. By now it was on all the channels and it was not some little plane. It was a big plane, a large commercial jet.

And then...

A second plane crashed into the other tower and this was no accident.

There was chaos, confusion, panic. Another report quickly followed, a plane crashed into the Pentagon in DC. Rumors floated in, reports of planes here, there, everywhere it seemed, although most quickly proved just false fears...except one, which crashed in a field in Pennsylvania.

On the TV it seemed some disaster movie was playing, one with amazing special effects. Giant plumes of smoke poured upward over Manhattan.

And then...

A tower crumbled downward, great pillows of dust rose like a poisonous fog embracing all that stood about it. People were running, screaming, down the streets. Behind them came the dark gray shroud, seemingly chasing after them, trying to swallow them up.

No one knew anything. The images just kept going on and on and I sat down and watched, unable to take my eyes off what was happening, and like the chattering reporters I listened to, knew not knowing why it was happening.

And then...

Our way of life forever changed. Things have been different ever since. There is never a true sense of real safety. Doing many once mundane things has become more inconvenient, especially flying. Wars have been begun and they go on and on and on. And I don't know who to believe about anything anymore.

During that morning I wondered about my meeting. It was to be the first of several to teach me how to get a new job. I tried calling the place, but no one answered the phone. I didn't know whether to get dressed and drive to the city or not. In the end I decided not to go and as it turned out I made the right choice.

My meeting was to be held on the top floor of the tallest building in town. Someone made the decision to cancel all activity in that building for the rest of that day. No one knew the targets. My city was a financial center, a banking town, and the tallest building was owned by a then very well known, large New York bank.

In the days afterward I talked with a friend who had also been kicked out of a job where we had been employed. He was also scheduled for a meeting in that same tall building on that day. He had other things on his mind that morning. One of his daughters worked at the World Trade Center and the train she took was scheduled to arrive at a station beneath the towers at 8:45 AM. That morning he wasn't concerned with finding a new job, he was concerned with finding out if his daughter was safe.

In one of those strange quirks of fate, his daughter had been to a party on Monday evening and coming home tired, had forgot to set her alarm. She over slept and missed her train. She was safe.

And then...

For sometime after I felt a nervousness whenever I was out walking and a plane engine caught my ear. We are on the path for landing at Philadelphia International Airport. Planes come overhead low in the sky. I would look up and wonder, "Isn't that plane much too low?" There are chemical plants all around us, and refineries, and just across the river a nuclear power plant. And so I would watch the plane move into the distance with that thought, "Isn't that plane too low?"

That is some of what I remember from that day.

Photo taken by the author.

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