Sep 11, 2011

10 years ago...

It started as a morning almost like any other. I say almost because I had told my then girlfriend that I was going to a gathering of friends after work that night. If you knew my friends, you'd know friendly gatherings usually went all night, so I told her I'd be staying over and bringing things to go to work from his house in the morning. The truth was, I was going to spend the night at my parents so my mom and I could go engagement ring shopping the following day.

At the time, I was working in the data center of a global financial institution. The data center was a secured server room, so aside from the phone or leaving the data center, I had very little contact with anyone else throughout my day. Around 8:50am I got a few phone calls from a some of our US locations stating they hadn't received the New York financial files. Not a big deal, this happened once in awhile. I tried to contact the person in NYC but could not get through. I thought it was odd but what could you do.

Then I got a call from our manager saying a plane had just hit the WTC. Still being out of the loop, I figured he meant a small prop plane. Shortly after that, the regular day crew starting coming in at 9:00 and during my rounds I started hearing people talk about the crashes. There was a small b&w TV with an antenna in the help desk (for emergency purposes) and they'd put it on to watch the news. I sat there for the next 45-60 minutes watching the events unfold.

It was terrible, to be sure, but it wasn't until the reports of the third and fourth planes came in that it started to become horrifying. We were located in some of the tallest financial buildings on the Boston waterfront. Could we be a target also? Unknown to me at the time, my girlfriend had been trying to reach me on my work phone (this was 10 years ago, not everyone had cell phones) because she was worried about the same thing.

A few more hours went by and everyone tried to carry on but obviously this was something much larger than anyone could be expected to continue their daily routines through. I finally talked to my girlfriend and told her we were ok there and she asked when I could leave. About another hour later, the decision was made to close the office early. There was a sandwich shop in the main area of the building's lobby and they were letting people take pre-made sandwiches, chips, fruit and water when they left. I took enough for two, I had no idea how long, the usual 40 minute drive would take and it was coming up on noon by then.

The traffic leaving Boston was unlike anything I'd ever seen before. You know those zombie movies where they come upon a highway with bumper to bumper abandoned cars? It was like that, but with people in the cars (and no zombies). I did eventually get home and after my girlfriend got home from her work we watched the news coverage for the rest of the night. Honestly, there was nothing else to do. The country was at home gathered with their loved ones watching their TVs in disbelief.

I remember going to work the next few days. The lack of planes into and out of Logan Airport created an eerie silence in the usually bustling city. The sound of planes overhead is one of those things you tune out but really notice when it's missing.

A year later I was married and honeymooning in Walt Disney World. With the first anniversary coming up, there was fear of another possible attack, even at the Happiest Place on Earth. At the time of the first attack, a message was broadcast in all the parks from President Obama and there was a moment of silence at 8:50am for the fallen. It was definitely something unusual to experience while at Disney. A lot of people in the parks that day were wearing red, white and blue in honor of those that were lost and fighting for our country.

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