Thursday, September 11, 2014

Remembering September 11, 2001

It was a beautiful, cool September day.  I pulled out of bed in the morning and immediately went downstairs to brew my morning coffee.  While the coffee brewed and warmed I took a hot bath, did my hair and make-up and got dressed up in my professional attire.   I sipped my morning coffee as I waited for my friend, Paula,  to pick me up for my job in Chicago.  We always drove together.

Paula and I drove to work and chatted about our normal stuff.  My kids, her baby boy, our jobs and local town gossip.  Just plain girl talk. 

When we got into the city she parked in the lot underneath her building, a block from mine.  It was a pretty good set up and I was thankful for it. 

My day on the 41st floor over-looking the lake transpired as usual.  Tons of calls from insurance agents needing assistance navigating our website, changing passwords and rating policies.   I had taken quite a few calls when the phone rang again and I picked it up..."Customer Interaction Center, this is Christy, May I help you?".....


"Yes, this is Christy"

"Christy, this is Lisa.  A plane just crashed into the World Trade Center."

Lisa had worked with me until just a few months before and she was my "work bff".  Awesome girl who I will love forever. 

I had no clue what the World Trade Center was.  I suppose I was and still am a person who lives in my own little town and world.  I just didn't know what the World Trade Center was, so I asked...

ME: "Where is that?

LISA:  "New York.  It's a very tall tower and a plane crashed into it.  I'm watching it on the news now!  The building is on fire and people are hanging out of the windows."

ME:  "Oh God, that's horrible, really horrible.  How will people get out?" 

LISA:  "OH MY GOD!"  "OH MY GOD!"  Another plane just hit the other tower!!  Christy, Get the F&%ck out of that building...NOW!!

It didn't register with me but somehow Lisa knew that the United States was under attack.  I asked her again what happened but she just kept screaming and telling me to get the hell out of my building because we were under attack.  I was in shock.  Lisa screamed over the phone again, "Hang up an get the hell out of there NOW!"  Then, she hung up.

Seconds later an announcement came over the speaker at work:  "Please remain where you are....blah, blah, blah....I didn't hear anymore."  A radio in the cubicle next to me blared that another plane hit the Pentagon.    I ran to the window and looked over the skyline of Chicago.   I wasn't  that far up but to me it seemed as if I was on top of the world and a now...a target. Again a voice came over the speaker at work:  "Please remain where you are."  I panicked. 

I told my manager that I wanted to evacuate.  He told me that I could and should regardless of what the voice on the speaker was saying.  Actually, he had our entire team evacuate while he stayed back and monitored the rest of the floor.  He was so brave, calm and defiant of the company's "policy to stay put" at that moment.  He told all of us to do what we felt was right.  We all evacuated...we were the first out and safe.  It was utter mayhem in the city.  Thousands of people were evacuating their buildings and the city. 

I remember me and Paula meeting up and driving back home.  There wasn't a plane in the sky.  The radio was tracking the last high-jacked flight.  Paula and I prayed and prayed for that flight until we heard it went down in a field.  We heard it on the radio, while we were stuck in traffic on Lake Shore Drive.  Neither one of us said another word all the way home to Indiana.  I looked out the car window and cried while she cried driving home.  We both just wanted to get home to our families. 

Once home, I remember talking to my mom who was relaying every bit of news to me.  People jumping out of windows and towers collapsing.  I couldn't hear anymore of it.  I took my Golden Lab, Hercules, out onto the front porch and just sat.  I sat while the beautiful days sun beat down on me.  I remember thinking that it was a beautiful day that would forever hold so much sorrow. 

It was a very, very sad day.

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