Tuesday, September 11, 2012


I was just reading Left Leaning Lady's post for today and the memories cane back. I was in Grandview, Missouri at the time, teaching a future estimator how to use our software. There was a television on in the break room and we soon heard the loud voices through our closed office door. We couldn't make sense of what they were talking about so we went to the break room to see for ourselves. Everyone was talking at once, and since I couldn't fathom the thought of an airliner hitting the building, told my 'student' that we ought to continue where we left off. We had just sat down when the second tower was hit. Now we knew. We closed the office and I drove back to my hotel room in Lenexa, Kansas. I turned the TV on and sat there dazed, trying to grasp the enormity of it all. I called home and we shared our fears over the phone. I needed to be home; I knew that. But I was in Kansas and home was in Northern California and there were no planes flying. I checked with my boss and he got our travel coordinator to arrange for our rental cars to be driven anywhere they needed to go. We had staff scattered all around the country so there were about 2 dozen cars involved. It wasn't until later that I realized how lucky I was to have that rental car. I set off the next morning. As I traveled, the radio would fade in and out as I passed the towns on the prairie. And all I heard were stories of great bravery. Amazing!
Traveling on I-70, I soon noticed that the majority of the cars on the road were rental cars. Everyone without a flight to take was heading home. After about 12 hours I was approaching the Denver Airport and as I passed the turnoff I looked up and scanned the sky; not a single plane to be seen. Eerie! I got as far as Eagle, Colorado that first day after driving for 15 hours. I got the last room at the hotel and the clerk told me that every car in the parking lot was either a rental or one that had been purchased just for this one trip home.
One advantage to driving all by yourself across half the country is...plenty of time to think. And I thought about what had just happened almost continuously. And I think that long drive healed me in a way; I was no longer fearful. I was putting it all in perspective; my perspective, certainly, but still calm and rational.
The next day was a 17 hour day, but I was home. The day after my long drive, I returned the car to Avis at the Sacramento Airport. 'Life' began again.
To be honest, I'm not much for physical memorials. No one is returned to life by erecting them. If they comfort someone...fine. The memorial to the victims of the 9/11 attack is embedded in my memory and will never go away. The only physical memorial I approve of is the Vietnam War Memorial. It should be law that every President, Senator and Congressperson walk around this memorial to those killed in a wrongful war, once every year. Have them read the names as they go...


  1. I am fairly certain that I would have gone 100% insane if I had been left to my own thoughts for that long so soon after it happened. The trip would not have eased my fears but made them grow larger with each passing mile. I am glad that it worked for you though.

  2. Yes, we're all different. Ain't that grand?

  3. I watched the NOVA show last night on the building of the 9/11 Memorial and the tower. I'm afraid I was much more interested in the process than the purpose. Being ex-construction, I was fascinated by the building materials and how they all went together. I've only worked as high as 27 floors and would have loved to have worked on that tower...1,776' high!

  4. It IS grand that we are all different! And it is grand that you received solace from the journey and didn't drive off the side of the road! (I would not have done so on purpose, but being disconnected like that would have caused my brain to go into overdrive, I would have sobbed uncontrollaby and ended up wrecking the car!)

    I notice that my tiny fear of heights from when I was younger is growing. I have rappeled from 3 story buildings and I loved heights as a child - now I need to stay back from a ledge and I need everyone else to also! At 27 floors I would be paralyzed!

  5. Truth is...I am afraid of heights. But, as an apprentice, I had to overcome it if I was going to stay in the trade. Later, as a foreman, I had to be the leader and so it wouldn't do for me to show fear...instead I preached caution. And I just moved a little slower when I was working on the outside of the safety cables. Still, I would have loved to have gone to the top of that building, just to say I did it.