Where were you?

Before even getting out of bed this morning, I was assaulted by the nauseating strains of “Have you Forgotten?” from my clock radio. My first thought was “God-DAMN! Even those Republican assholes at Clear Channel are gonna have to give up on the warmongering sometime.” Then I realized it was “in honor” of the fifth anniversary of Sept. 11. Throughout the day, news media and conversations were full of people reminiscing about when, where, and how they heard about the attacks. It’s going to compete with my generation’s memories of hearing about the assassinations of President Kennedy (PA announcement in my first-grade classroom) and John Lennon (I don’t remember, so maybe 9/11 really is bigger). So I might as well play along.

I do remember getting the news about the September 11 attacks, although it didn’t initially hit me as hard as many people. In fact, while not wanting to make light of the tragedy, my first reaction was so clueless that it was amusing.

I’d gotten to work a little late, so I was still sifting through the regular morning glut of email around 9:00 AM, when a co-worker walked in and asked if I had heard the news about the World Trade Center. When I said I hadn’t, she told me that a plane had hit one of the towers, and as she and some others were watching the news, they saw another plane hit the second tower. Although I hadn’t even finished my first cup of coffee, my mind was keen enough to instantly begin processing the question of whether this was something I needed to worry about.

I had plans to do some jump schooling later that week at Masterson Station Park, with a friend who was a Delta flight attendant. So I immediately asked Sarah if either plane was Delta. She looked at me like “What the hell kind of dumb reaction is that?” and said she didn’t know. Since I didn’t seem interested in any of the other details that she probably was prepared to provide, she left, and returned a few minutes later with the news that one plane was United and she didn’t know what the other one was.

I had already reached the conclusion that Delta had a lot of planes, and a lot of flight attendants, so even if one of the errant planes was theirs, there wasn’t much chance that Nancy was on it. Confident that this wasn’t going to ruin my Thursday playday plans, I thanked Sarah for the information, and turned my attention back to my computer, which was not yet flooded with all the chatter that came later and changed my view of events.

After a little more coffee, I got into a problem that needed some input from another co-worker. So I wandered into his office, and we chatted about both work and personal stuff for a while. As I was about to leave, I casually asked if he had heard about the World Trade Center. He hadn’t, so I said “It got hit by a couple of planes”.

“A COUPLE of planes?” was his shocked reply. I shrugged “Yeah, that’s what Sarah said. A plane hit one tower, and then they were watching the news and saw another plane hit the other tower.” As he expressed the kind of shock and bewilderment that Sarah had probably expected from me, instead of my total lack of concern, I had an amazing flash of insight that might qualify me as an honorary blonde: “I wonder if it’s foggy in New York this morning or something.”

With a look even more incredulous than the one Sarah had given me, Rainer pointed out that, foggy or not, airliners didn’t usually fly a slalom course through the skyline of New York City. He started looking for news websites, and as we realized that none of the sites he tried would respond because they were obviously swamped with traffic, we looked at each other and said “This is big.” Finally he got a response from MSNBC, which was barely able to provide a single page with a picture of the burning towers, and headlines “Day of Terror! Explosion at Pentagon! US Airspace Closed”

I wandered back to my office, turned on the radio, and began wandering around the net looking for news and gossip. It soon became apparent that maybe this was going to affect my plans for the week. That was confirmed the next day in a phone message from my would-be riding buddy, who had been airborne, but nowhere near New York, when the towers fell. Her plane had been diverted to Salt Lake City, and she obviously wasn’t flying home any time soon.

Although I get sick of the Bushies’ constant mantra that “9/11 changed everything”, I suppose that by giving them that excuse to throw out the Constitution, international treaties, and basic human decency, it really did change everything. Well, almost everything. My riding buddy eventually made it home safely, and we rescheduled our practice session the next week. So, although I can blame Osama bin Laden for providing support for the Bush administration’s radical agenda, I don’t suppose I can blame him for my lack of equestrian skills.

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