Friday, December 17, 2010

My "Where Were You When" Story

Tonight CBS played a repeat of the Blue Bloods episode "what you See". The episode shows the fictional NYPD of the show hunting a potential Car bomber. After the situation is defused, the police commissioner, played by Tom Selleck, wonders aloud to himself "Where were you on September 11th?"

I can't imagine anyone who was aware enough to remember what happened that day ever forgetting where they were, or what they were doing. I've never talked to anyone I work with who doesn't have their own story about that day.

This is mine.

I work in the payroll department of my office at the time. It was pay week. Our department was working hard to get payroll completed.

Around 9 a.m., rumors began to filter. A plane had hit the World Trade Center.

A private plane, I thought. Trivial, I thought. An accident.

A T.V. was located. We tuned it in. We saw the Towers smoking. Heavily.

No big deal, I thought. They'll get those fires out in no time.

We continued to watch. We watched as the fires continued to burn. We watched as the towers collapsed.

We were stunned.

Most of us returned to our desks in a state of collective shock. I sat back down at my desk and started entering payroll data automatically. I couldn't think of anything else to do. The rest of us felt pretty much the same way.

An hour or so later, the boss called. He'd been attending a conference out of town. He told us to close the office and go home.

But payroll had to go out. So my supervisor and I volunteered to stay. As the only two single people in our department, it made sense. We worked furiously, entered the necessary data (with several nervous glances out the window of our building--who knew if we were the next target?), and then got the hell out of there.

I spent the rest of the day at home, watching the news coverage of the incident. Around dusk, I walked outside to watch the evening sky. I've never heard the city be so quiet. I also saw many of my neighbors outside, watching the skies. I saw many American flags hanging from their houses, more than I'd ever seen on any National Holiday.

We heard a jet engine overhead. We all looked up and saw an Air National Guard F-16 streak across the sky. We all felt a little better seeing it.

When it grew dark, we went back inside.

Everyone's life changed that day. Everyone had a new "Where Were You When" story.

I fully realize that it's morbid to bring that up at this time of year. But I wanted to make sure everyone remembers what happened then. And why we should all be extra grateful for the things we still have.

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