I believe it is important to remember where you were that day. Not because it was less of a tragedy for you than for someone else, or that it did not affect you as deeply as every other American. Everyone has a story. The truth is, it did touch multitudes in a profound and irreparable way, and undeniably, some more than others. It reminds us of the starting point in which we had to pick up the pieces and move on. I could still see smoke rising for days from where I lived, and had to pass over this scene from the sky. But we returned to work, flying on airplanes when no one wanted to. We were subject and scrutinized by the TSA (Transportation Safety Administration). Everything about our job changed. Many of our comrades were laid-off.
This is OUR story:
Arrived at Newark airport well after midnight. Funny thing, we began this trip out of LGA (LaGuardia Airport, NY). Bad weather knocked power out at LaGuardia’s ATC (air traffic control) tower that night. Stuck in DFW (Dallas). Rescheduled to deadhead home. First flight gets a mechanical delay and cancels. Now, it’s on to EWR (Newark Airport, NJ). Our last trip before our wedding day, Sept. 15th, and vacation was to begin the next day, Sept. 11th.
So now there’s a million stews deadheading on this flight into Newark- that all need to get to somewhere else-Manhattan, JFK, or LGA, but definitely NOT Newark.
Golden Touch limo nightmare.
Exit airport to a scene that only a crew member can truly understand. 50 Golden Touch limo’s and none of them ours!
You see, the company was required to get us back to where we started. Problem: each limo driver had flight numbers and employee info and deviation of this plan was somehow forbidden, like some unspoken limo driver conspiracy to make you have to wait around even longer.
Ugly fights could break out when commuters (not even scheduled for a limo) would try and hop a ride in yours.
Looking back, I wonder about those men also lurking around Newark airport that night (United Airlines Flight 93 took off from EWR that morning).
Finally reached LGA airport where we had to take a bus to the remote employee parking lot, where our car was waiting for us. Then, to drive about 40 minutes to Long Beach, at least 3 am by the time we fell into bed on September 11th.
It was a Tuesday. I was awakened by the telephone. An aircraft hit one of the Twin Towers. Must have been some terrible accident. Maybe it’s foggy outside. Looking out the window to a beautiful blue sky with just a few puffy white clouds. I would always remember this as a September 11th sky.
At this point, I turned on the TV, just in time to see a second plane fly into the south tower. In confusion, realizing what America was realizing. This is deliberate. Those are commercial planes. Our planes. I can see the bold “AA” on its tail in the instant replay.
Incessant ringing of the phone. People I hadn’t spoken to in years, “Oh, good you’re at home & not flying.”
Numbness, disbelief–glued to the TV.
Next, the Pentagon. And then, a field in Shanksville, PA. The world really is coming to an end.
A few days later, preparing for our wedding. I remember looking for wedding shoes in Designer Shoe Warehouse. I called up a close friend and had an emotional break-down on the phone in the middle of the store. What should we do? Should we cancel our wedding? How would family and friends even get to New York? Flights were grounded until that very day. Bridges and tunnels were shut down at random and unexpected moments making travel in and out of New York next to impossible.
STAY TUNED FOR PART TWO- Our Wedding day, 9-15-2001