I am reminded of 9/11/01 every time we have a perfectly blue clear sky. I worked in NYC and still do (approx 2 miles from what became known as “ground zero.”) I lived in Hackensack, NJ at the time. I had gotten to office a little early and was at my desk. My boss was standing near the window in front of my desk chatting with me. We heard a sudden loud noise and we both looked out the window—he looked up in the direction of the noise. About 10 minutes later, one of the VPs came down and said that a plane had flown into the one of the towers at the WTC. We were wondering, how could a plane fly into the tower in broad daylight?
One of my co-worker came running into the office in a very frantic state saying he had seen a plane fly into tower as he came out of the subway. We eventually turned on the TV on the conference room and found out it was jet, not a little plane.
As we were watching the TV screen, waiting for a meeting that was not going to happen that day, we saw the second plane hit the other tower. I remember saying, “This is not an accident.” I went downstairs to get a cup of coffee, and people were standing in the middle of Fifth Ave looking at the smoke streaming from the towers. It was unbelievable.
I was doing a mental run through of all the people I knew who worked in the area or might work in one of the towers. It then dawned on me that my boss’s wife worked in the South Tower. He didn’t seem concerned because he said she worked way below where the plane went in. She eventually made it to our office. Her company had evacuated the building when the North Tower was hit, and they decided not to go back in when they told that they could. She had left everything, and decided not to hang around. She bored money and got a cab to get up to 18th Street. The minute she walked into our office I watched the South Tower crumbled and fall.
Later, when we felt it was safe, we left the office about three o’clock. I walked with a nervous co-worker who lived in Lodi to Port Authority. Every now and then I’d see someone covered with white ash and dust, and we know they were “down there.” As we walked, the streets were completed empty. I commented to my friend, “What a beautiful day. The sky is so clear and so blue.” And then I looked south and saw the clouds of smoke—still hard to believe that those two towers were no longer there.
I eventually got home about midnight, and my answering machine was blinking like crazy. After waiting on line for hours to get a ferry—all the bridges and tunnels were closed. I remember a NYPD bike officer walking around with a big bowl of potato chips. When we finally got to the Hoboken, NJ train station, there were Red Cross people there, asking if we were okay. They had a little tent area set up in case you needed to sit and rest—or just wanted to be alone for moment. There were volunteers handing out bottled water and lollipops.
All my friends were safe, and some literally ran for their lives. But a former co-worker lost his wife. I found that out when I saw him on TV the next morning holding her photo as he talked to an MSNBC reporter. She was on one of the top floors in the North Tower when the first plane hit. He talked to her on the phone until they were disconnected. Their son was 18 months old at the time.
Now, I don’t look up as often when I hear loud planes overhead. But every time the sky is completely clear of clouds and perfectly blue, I’m taken back to that day as we walked down 9th Ave looking south.