My wife and I just watched 60 minutes and the story on “Ground Zero”.
“I almost died that day.”
She knows. It was one of maybe 2 or 3 times in my life that I was spared or got lucky. I think probably most people can say this.
At about 8:30 on 9/11 (as in 2001) I woke with a start – I was going to be late for my Dreamweaver class which was at 40 Broad Street. I threw on some clothes and was going to bring my video camera. At the time I had a cable show on MNN called “Stream TV” which had 4 segments highlighting the techie boom in Manhattan. Everyone was making great hourly wages as contractors and the subtitle of the show was LIFE, ART, ROCK, TECH. I frequently filmed these classes and edited them on my Mac Cube (memo to self – write article trashing Apple).
But no time for that now, I was going to be late so I got to the train at 50th Street and noticed that there were police and people generally looking around. Nevertheless the train came and crawled it’s way to Broad Street. Somehow, a guy on the train had known already that a plane had crashed into the world trade center and that’s why the trains were going so slow. People were talking but the information was confused. It must have already been after the 2nd plane hit when I got out at Broad and William and saw everyone looking up to see the billowing smoke.
But like everyone else – confused, not knowing the scope of what was about to happen, and being powerless to do anything anyway – I continued to me class. We all signed in, the teacher who was rattled tried to keep us focused but one guy who was on his cell at the back of the class and looking onto broad street announced “THEY HIT THE PENTAGON?” – and that was it. I went to the window and sure enough, the scene I saw will always be with me. A stampede from the Stock Exchange.
I was married to Nico at the time who I knew was only a few blocks away at the Chase Building (they hadn’t yet merged with JP Morgan) on the 60th floor readying for a webcast with the CEO of Sun Microsystems on the 60th Floor.
Everyone grabbed their stuff and took off. I remember the teacher trying to keep everyone calm. I was more stunned than scared and made my way out of the classroom. A crowd of people was waiting for the elevator so I found the staircase and said loudly “over here.” Though we were only on the 3rd or 4th floor, it wasn’t long before it was an everyone for themselves mentality and I remember saying to whoever would listen, calm down. But when we got outside – it was pandemonium. I remember big guys fleeing in terror knocking down anyone in front of them. Everyone was running south. I was in a daze and there was no going the few blocks north to try and get to my ex. Until I saw that cloud. I though briefly about my camera.
Right before the cloud passed over me something sharp and metal whizzed right by my neck.
But I waited a few minutes behind a car, I forgot on what street until I could see again. I went north, I think to John Street where the cops were herding everyone towards the Brooklyn bridge. A Korean Grocer was giving out free water and I took one to wash the ash out of my burning eyes. I was going the other way to the Chase Building in the opposite direction to find my wife. When I got there, the security bars had been trampled, the lobby was filled with smoke and only one security guard remained manning his post. I asked where everyone went he said to Level D.
It’s never really fully hit me. Though I can say that I’ve never slept the same since. And these families, who’ve lost loved ones have been denied the justice and the closure that this awful day brought. How many of these skyscrapers have they put up in no time to pad the banks’ pockets with over-inflated prices attached to greedy condo buyers seeking to flip them.
I understand the security concerns, but every time I see a story like this in the paper, on in this case on 60 minutes, it brings it back. I’m lucky of course, and though I have the memories from that day imprinted on my brain forever, the effect that it had on me will never match what 2700 plus others had to cope with.
Please – one by one, we’ve got to get these towers re-built. Or it is to the detriment and shame of us all.