Thursday, 11 September 2014


September 11, 2001. I was asleep in bed after a long night at work, fixing servers and systems at the software development company where I worked. My phone rang. It was my Mom telling me to turn on the TV, telling me what was happening at that moment in New York City. I watched, horrified and entranced.

I went to the office as soon as I could tear myself away from those terrible images; we had people in transit, flying from Chicago to Vancouver, right at that moment, people on planes. They were grounded in Chicago and it would take several days for them to get home, out of those airports crippled by terrorism. They were safe; other people I knew were not safe.

In a past career I was a sales and management training consultant to Wall Street firms. I worked with a fellow who had his offices in White Plains, NY; most of our clients were in that fateful part of downtown New York City. The first thing I did was call his offices to see that he and his team were all safe, not in the city that day. He was also in Chicago and the rest of the group were in their offices in White Plains. Then I reached out to others I knew, others who shared the contacts with people I knew in the building. They knew nothing; in some cases we would never know what happened, only that our friends did not come out of the building.

I had worked in the WTC buildings and stayed there while in New York. I had the opportunity to see the views from the upper floors, to have dinner in the restaurant at the top of the building. I was in there regularly over the course of a decade. In fact I was in the building the day before the first attack, where terrorists set off a bomb in the parking garage on February 26, 1993.

On that fateful day I was supposed to be in the building, most likely in the subway station when the bomb went off. I was supposed to be meeting someone on Friday morning in the building,  and then heading to the airport at lunch, but we managed to do the meeting Thursday afternoon so I could fly home Thursday night instead of my planned flight for Friday afternoon.

I was not there on 9/11, at least not in body. I thought about my friends, people I knew and people I didn't. I watched in horror as those towers fell. It was a year or two before I would return to New York City; on my first visit back I could not go to the site. In subsequent years I would return again, inching my way closer to Wall Street and the Trinity Church, gazing at the gaping hole in the ground, the rubble and remnants. It's now been several years since I've been in New York City, years in which they have built new towers and memorials, years where things have both changed and remained the same. Perhaps I should go there again, just once more.

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