posted on Jul, 24 2010 @ 09:56 PM
I had moved back to New York City four days before 9/11. I had a contact at an employment agency, so on Monday I had called them and we set an
appointment for me to come in on Tuesday morning around 10:00 PM, if memory serves (their offices were at the Chrysler Building in Midtown).
I was on my way into Manhattan on the subway from Brooklyn, the F-line has a section that goes above ground for two stops and while on that section,
people on the train all started looking out the window and whispering to each other. I asked a guy near me what everyone was looking at, and he just
glanced at me and said in the most nonchalant way, "the Twin Towers are burning."
Thinking it must be some small fire visible from where we were, I looked out and saw the double inferno we all know so well, by now. I was amazed the
guy seemed so nonpluses by it because clearly it was gigantic. I asked him what happened and he told me, "a plane hit it." That was all the info I
had at that point, so I thought a single plane must have clipped one and then hit the other, somehow.
The train was stopped there for a while and we just watched it burn, but eventually, it started up again and after a very long ride I made it to
Midtown. By then I was late for my appointment, and while I realized it was probably not the main concern at that point, I figured I should at least
get to their office because who knows how they might react if I didn't. Well, I got to the Chrysler Building and found the whole thing had been
evacuated, like pretty much every other landmark building in New York had been by then, so the meeting was moot anyway.
Not sure what to do next and not being able to get connection on my cell phone, I tried to reach my parents on several pay phones but circuits were
jammed. I did eventually get thorough and left a message on their home machine (I didn't have their work numbers on me at the time and hadn't
programmed them into the cell phone because it was new, I had bought it the Sunday after I got to NYC).
I wandered then to a diner that had TVs so I could get info on what was going on. A guy there told me that the first tower had fallen and as we
watched on TV the second fell. We thought it was a replay of the first tower falling because the sound was off. It's quite likely I felt the first
fall but was on the subway at the time and didn't realize it wasn't just the jostling of the train (I was too far away to feel the second come
down). I started complaining to the people working at the diner to turn the sound up in case there was important emergency information we weren't
hearing and the idiots actually said they couldn't do it because the manager wasn't there. I just started yelling at them and they complied.
After another 20 minutes there, I then wandered to the Roosevelt Hotel where they had set up TVs in the lobby and brought out phones so people could
call loved ones. I called one friend in Los Angeles (where I had just moved back to NYC from) and gave him my numbers for other friends so he could
call them and let them know I was okay. Then, something really crazy happened...
...some woman down stairs at the front door screamed, "OH MY GOD, IT'S A BOMB!!!" Everyone in the lobby started rushing toward the rear exit of
the lobby and in the press, people were getting jostled and a serious panic was about to start. I got the distinct feeling in about 30 seconds people
might start getting knocked over and trampled. I noticed the security guards were kind of panicking too and didn't quite know what to do, so I just
shouted out, "CALM DOWN," and it worked. Everyone just kind of settled down, got their wits about them and stopped pushing and shoving each other
out of the way. I really do think I may have stopped a panic in the hotel lobby at that point.
With no other idea of what I should do, I started walking from about 44th St. down to my friend's apartment which was way down on 3rd St., about a 2
mile plus walk. On the way, I kept seeing one emergency vehicle after another driving south. One was a blood transport van packed full with the
stuff. I remember finding that pretty chilling. There were also a lot of off duty cops driving down, probably just getting in from their homes
outside the city, holding their badges out the windows of their cars so people would give them right of way (their own cars, not cop vehicles). I
also walked past the NYC Police Academy on 20th Street and saw them marshaling all of the cadets on the street outside the building. I think they
were getting temporarily deputized early to help with all the chaos.
Finally, I got to her place which wound up being a kind of central rally point for all of her friends and within a couple hours, five or six of us had
come by and we all watched everything on TV from then on, just like everyone else. One guy I met there that day was the boyfriend of her best friend
and to this day he and I are very close friends - funny how that works, we met on 9/11. He worked in one of the buildings right next to the WTC and
had left the area before the collapse.
There was one friend we couldn't get in touch with not only that day, but for the next day too. What was distressing was that he was a volunteer K-9
search and rescue handler, and obviously he was going to be down there. Turns out he got there only 20 minutes after the second building fell and had
merely been working non-stop and hadn't had a chance to call. He was fine (mostly, he hurt his back permanently and has permanent lung issues, now).
He was also about 6 or 8 blocks away from Building 7 when it came down (he doesn't think it was blown up, but that's a matter for the 20 other
threads on that topic). He's since become a paramedic, which he combines with his search and rescue activities.
I wound up staying at my friend's apartment that night. At the time, I thought the cloud of ash had gone right over where I lived in Brooklyn and
didn't want to have any of that dumped on me, but found out later it missed my section altogether. The next morning, she and I went to a diner for
breakfast and I have never experience NYC that dead in my life except on days of very heavy snowfalls. There was a distinct chemical smell in the air
and a haze from all the stuff that was then still burning or hadn't yet settled. I'll never forget that smell, I'd never smelled it before, and
[edit on 7/24/2010 by LifeInDeath]