9/11 seems like yesterday. My office was on Hudson Street just north of Canal, which turned out to be the northern end of the exclusion zone for the next few weeks. Amazingly, even though there were a lot of people in the company who lived near or commuted through there, none of our then current employees were physically injured, though someone who had left the company before I arrived was on Flight 93, which fought the hijackers.

I was just north of the city when the first plane hit and turned around. I was on the phone with a co-worker for a bit who had already arrived at the office and who was watching from a conference room window as the second came in. It all seemed unreal. I turned around to go home. I did think to call home and to call my parents on the way. Both knew I was supposed to be in the city. Fortunately, my wife then thought to call the schools my kids were attending. The schools had put the news on in the classrooms. We live a distance from New York, and there are not a lot of people who commute to New York, so it had apparently not occurred to anyone that there might be direct connections to any of the kids. The front office dispatched people to let my own kids know that I was okay and onĀ  my way home.

A few of us set up a web page for getting information to and from our co-workers who were scattered around the city and beyond and managed to track almost everybody down within a day or so. Our offices were closed until about a week later. Several of us did manage to meet there on 9/14 to see if there was any damage to the offices or systems, which we had managed to keep running remotely until then. We had not lost power or any of our data lines, and somehow it seemed strange to see the quiet desks and running equipment unscathed except for some dust that came through the elevator shafts. Outside, it looked like a war zone.

Sometime later, I was at my desk and waiting “on hold” on the telephone for someone. I idly pulled up the New York Times web site on my computer while I waited. On the side of the front page, they were running a series of brief bios of people that had been lost. That day the first person I saw was a guy I had been in Cub Scouts with.

Another strange thing I remember in the following weeks was the sight of cars scattered through the parking lots of Metro North Railroad that were clearly not being moved at night and beginning to collect dust. It took a few days before people realized that these belonged to people who weren’t coming home.

One Response to “9/11”

  1. Bill Schmitt says:

    After I posted I remembered something else. Traffic has always been crazy in Manhattan, and was significantly worse for months afterward, especially considering that 12th Avenue/West Street was closed from about 34th Street down to the Battery. What struck me was how relatively quiet it was. For months afterward, despite the state of traffic, you hardly ever heard anyone honking their horns.

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