It was just another day in my geeky programmer life. I got up and rode my bicycle to work. At that time, my work location was such that I could ride the 4 miles to work without riding on any streets. When I arrived, my boss asked me if I wanted a nice office chair for free. I must have had a look of bewilderment on my face because he began to explain. “You see, I got this nice chair a while back, but my wife doesn’t like it. You can have it if you want it. It’s in the trunk of my car.” I said, “sure.” So we went to his car and drove out to my house to drop off the chair. I am sitting in the chair as I type this.
Along the way, we chatted about this and that… nothing important. When arrived back at the office, the guards in the lobby were all looking at a small TV screen and talking about something that had captured their attention. They said a plane had flown into a buildng in NY. I dismissed it thinking that was a strange accident and how silly it was that folks got so engrossed in something just because it was unusual. It didn’t have anything to do with me, for sure. As we entered the workplace, I noticed that folks were huddled in little groups. Someone had a little black and white TV and several were gathered around it. By this time they were saying that a second plane had flown into a building. My first thought was that this was no accident. My interest was piqued.
I tried to find something on the internet news sites, but they were all jammed up and unresponsive. So I thought I would try one of the newsgroups since most people didn’t know what they were, I expected them to be accessible. They were accessible and a flurry of activity. I began reading the news and opinions about what happened, whether it was really an attack and by whom. I was taking everything with a huge grain of salt because of the nature of an unmoderated newsgroup and then I saw a post from someone saying that the pentagon had been hit. I thought to myself that the alarmist crazys had taken over the newsgroup and decided that it wasn’t reliable enough to be worth reading. I returned to my work.
Somehow, I got news that they Pentagon part was true and that it was definitely some sort of attack, but I continued to emmerse myself in my work. Jeanie was was sleeping in. She had been up the wee hours of the morning delivering newspapers and had returned to bed. She woke to the local talk radio station going on about the events assuming that all of its readers understood the context. She was completely in the dark about the events. She called me to find out what in the world was going on. An hour or two later, I got an email telling me to go home due to the events of the morning. I had an appointment to give blood that day and my first thought was that I should keep that appointment because they were going to need blood, so I went to the collection location, but it was deserted. So I went home.
I remember feeling shell shocked. It wasn’t long before I had seen enough of the news on TV. The repeated images and the incessant talk about the same thing over and over was getting to me. I needed a diversion. A few weeks earlier, I had started a project to create two large natural areas in the front yard. So I methodically walked to the garage, picked up my tools and started mindlessly raking and digging.
Seven years have passed. The natural area is part of the yard now and looks pretty nice, I think. It was several months before I gave blood again. There was such an outpouring of donations from folks who wanted to be a part that I thought (correctly) the Red Cross wouldn’t be able to handle it all. After donations started to drop off again, I began donating again regularly (and I still do). The office chair still holds my butt up off the floor. The world is upside down from the repercussions of the events of that day, September 11, 2001. My heart still aches for those who lost loved ones. I still love hearing the stories of what folks remember about that day.