Recycling Day (still)

This is a blog I posted in 2007 on Sept. 11 - Many times I told a story about that day- especially around the anniversary - But this one is more about the facts of the day for me. What it doesn't say is that I was in my office building about 4 hours before they let us go - and then almost another 4 hours before I got to Chad. Cara and Julie had picked him from school when they closed their doors at 10am so he was safe - I just couldn't get to him. So here's my story just like 100's of thousands of people have their stories :-(

Sep 11, 2007
happy anniversary

Ok so this is it. If you are avoiding the news or television in general and you don't want to hear, read, or speak about the tragedy of 6 years ago – maybe you shouldn't read this. (plus it's super long)

I feel so lucky because my company has an on-site childcare facility that is available to it's employees for a specified number of days a year. When your childcare is closed, or your child has a dr. appt and you don't have time to ride the train home and back. Or on days when you feel like having your child close. I think its 30 days a year. Which is amazing, and I take full advantage of everyday I have available. I brought Chad with me yesterday and we went to lunch together. It was so much fun and I'm thinking about bringing him again today. But then I don't want to spoil him – ok I don't want to spoil me. And I think better of it and go ahead and drop him off at his daycare.

As I look around on the train, I notice these are not my normal commuters. I mean, I don't know most of them, but I definitely recognize people after riding the train for over a year at the same time everyday. So I look at my watch and realize I'm almost 20 minutes early today. When we got up this morning I thought I was bringing Chad with me, so I was giving us extra time, so I am ahead of schedule which is so unusual for me.

Every day that I walk in this city I love it more and more. I heard on the news the other day that 150,000 commuters go through the World Trade Center everyday. That doesn't count the employees that actually work in the seven buildings on this huge acreage. I grew up in a town of 35.000 – not a small town by Oklahoma standards. I'm horrible at math, but I think that's over 4 of my entire towns walk through this building, changing trains, or as the beginning of their daily trek or ending destinations.

The WTC is my ending destination. This morning I'm listening to Ani's live version of both hands which has an orchestral introduction and some really strong beats that I love to walk too. I notice the Children's Store is having a 'model' contest to pick a real kid for their campaign. Definitely I have to get Chad into that. I am climbing the stairs to the north east door of the WTC mall and I am walking the 5 blocks to my office. Past the trinity cemetery. Past the Wall Street Sign. Past the gym that I am a member of but have only been 3 times because I'm so intimidated by all of the Wall Street types that also frequent that gym. Past the NYC Stock Exchange. Past the corner where I saw a woman in leather beating men in suits on camera. Past the street where I saw them shooting an episode of Law and Order SVU. I am here. Living my dream. I am so fortunate and determined and full of life.

I am in my building. 85 broad street. There is a security guard but there are 100's of us in the lobby so he isn't really paying attention to me or my neighbor. I don't really think it's a problem. I couldn't even imagine that soon we would be standing in long lines surrounded by troops, with guns as large as a toddler, having our bags x-rayed and our bodies scanned. For now, I am in my building. It is approximately 8:40. I'm almost 20 minutes early today. Instead of my normal 10 minutes late.

Most of the bankers won't arrive for 30 minutes to an hour. I'm trying not to resent this because I do know they stay at work sometimes until the wee hours of the morning. The office is so quiet. I'm mostly catching up on emails and reading internet news. I hear a loud thud noise. Maybe it was an explosion? Or was that thunder? Mostly I forget about it for the next few minutes until the internet caught up.

On my screen is a news flash that a plane has hit the world trade center. I don't even know what to think or how to wrap my head around this possibility.

A banker that has a corner office and a television turns it on. We all walk to his office and see the itty bitty tiny whole in the building. Some moron with a twin engine has put a small whole in the building. I can't even see the plane. He must not have realized the building was so high – or he was trying to show off and buzz it too close.

I'm back at my desk and call my mom on her cell phone. She is driving to work and listening to Dr. Hook – so her radio isn't on.

"hey mom, it's me."
"oh hi! What a surprise"
"Are you still driving to work?"
"yep, whats up?"
"well I wanted to call you and let you know that I'm at the office. Some guy ran his plan into the world trade center but I'm safe."
"oh really? Well I'm glad you called. I would have been so worried"
"haha I knew you would – I'm fine"
"well have a great day – I'll email later"
"ok mom…bye"
My mom never liked that I moved here. She worries about everything. I thought it would be smart to head this panic attack with a quick call.
I'm having an urge to call my grandma too. I'm not sure why because she is probably asleep. But I call her.
"grandma, it's sammi. I'm sorry to wake you up"
"it's ok. Is something wrong" (later I find out she was pretty upset that I called so early)
"well a plane hit the world trade center and I just wanted to tell you that I'm in my office on wall street. I'm safe and relatively far away from there"
"don't you work in the wtc?"
"no, but I do ride the train thru there every morning. So I didn't want you to worry"
"ok. I wont. I'm going back to bed"
"ok grandma, I love you"
"I love you too. Bye"

I am hanging up the phone when I feel that same thud. That same thunder like explosion. Then people start screaming. A half a dozen people are still in the office watching TV. . And almost immediately the phones start ringing off the hook. For a split second I start thinking something has happened to our own building. The chaos is a little deafening. I have four bankers and several hundred more on the floor. I am getting calls for people that I don't even work with. Family members looking for their loved ones.

I want to leave but I don't know where I'll go, the only way I know how to get home, is through WTC. But we seem to be under some kind of attack. My son is only four miles away and there is no way for me to reach him. (Looking back I should have walked a few miles uptown and crossed a bridge on foot. or hitched a ride to jersey. but i think i was in shock.)

I am sitting on a barge. It looks like they normally haul oil or something extremely dirty on this boat. I am standing with about 200 other people. We are all looking toward the sky and we are all silent. No laughter, no mindless chit chat, no anger towards strangers - and no seats. We are all just standing. And we are all filthy dirty because we just crawled across a rickety wooden ladder to get on the barge. Over water. We just stand there.

For more than three hours. It seems to be the most beautiful picturesque day. The sky is clear. Except for that one little sheet of paper floating in the sky. I wonder how in the world that got up there.

It is just swaying back and forth, a white sheet of paper. Floating in the windless sky. We are all fixated on this paper. We have no working phones. The captain of the barge has no idea when we can leave. There are no words.

As the paper gets closer we realize it's more like the size of a car door. But it is still floating like it's weightless. Back and forth - and we all watch. Then it looks a little bigger as it gets closer - like maybe it's the size of a small car...still very thin and weightless but it's pretty big.

It is so close now you can see the reflection of the water from the river in the shiny material. What in the world is it? Then all of a sudden everyone on the barge shifts, gasps and tenses up. This little tiny sheet of paper that came from no where in the sky slams into the side of a NYPD boat anchored right next to our barge. It is so big we can not see the boat because it is covered by the metal. We hear the clang and the boats rocks violently. We all lean forward collectively as a mother would reach for it's child before it falls in a creek.

No one is hurt. Not in that moment. But we all look back up to the sky to see what other mysterious objects will be escaping the clouds.

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