Friday, September 10, 2021

Remembering 9/11

Tomorrow is the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attack.  I didn't start blogging until several years later, so I don't have a contemporary record, but I remember it.  Boy, do I remember it.  Living in California, I was getting dressed to go to work when I found out about it - I was working at the Bank of America's Concord data center, in the email support team.  

I usually listen to the news on NPR while I'm doing things like that, and I kept hearing some very strange things.  I remember going downstairs to get some breakfast and calling out to my husband, "What the hell is going on?"  Back in 2001 we had a television that we occasionally turned on, and he had it turned on, and I got a look.

The attack happened at 08:45 EDT, which was 05:45 PDT, so by the time I got up and got moving it had been going on for some time.  (I'm not a morning person.)  By 07:00 PDT or so, which is my guess on the time I came downstairs, the attack had been going on for an hour and a quarter.  Both towers and the Pentagon had been hit, the south tower had collapsed, and hijacked Flight 93 was within 10 minutes of crashing in the field near Shanksville, PA.  

The flight 93 hijacking seems to have begun around 09:31 EDT.  At 09:57 EDT, the passengers took a vote and decided to attack the hijackers, so during that period of a little over 10 minutes from 09:57 to 10:10 EDT when the hijackers crashed the plane, there was an active fight going on for control.  This is about when I came downstairs to have breakfast.

Well, I still had to go to work, so I ate breakfast.  And since this was during the period after my right knee went bad and before I got it replaced, I drove to Concord for work.  Everyone in my department was trying to follow what was going on back East.  I remember someone taking one of the TVs they used for video training and faking up an antenna with a wire coat hanger.  They trundled it, on its wheeled trolley, over to one of the windows where it would pick up a signal, and managed to get a news broadcast covering the attack.  In fact I think they hooked up antennas to two TV monitors.  After that, everybody wandered past there regularly to see what was going on.  I remember thinking, at one point that afternoon, I have projects to work on, and nothing I can do here will affect that.  So I went into my cube, away from the TV, and tried to get some work done.  I don't recall what I was working on or whether I succeeded in getting anything done.  

I don't have any other particular memories of the day, although I'm sure I had the news on the car radio as I drove home, because I always do.

This is hardly great history, but it's what I remember of an event that changed our world, so I thought I'd share it.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous9:43 AM

    I retired from my gov’t job two weeks before 9/11. My wife and I were up very early that day, to attend a library book sale in Palo Alto. As we walked back to our car from getting coffee, the car radio was crackling with chatter about an airplane crashing into a tower in New York. The first reports said they thought the plane had been a small private plane that had flown off-course! By the time we had returned home early that afternoon, all hell had broken loose, and Dubya’s classroom Alfred E. Neuman “what me worry” video in a Florida grade school classroom had gone viral. At this point, important Saudi diplomats and petroleum executives were being secretly airlifted out of the U.S., while all other air traffic was grounded. It felt to me very like the day Kennedy was shot, when I was a Junior at Napa High School—surreal and disorienting.