Sep. 11th, 2006 03:24 pm
zonewombat: (falconer)
Robert was leaving for Japan that day.  I worked near Dulles Airport, so I dropped him off at the United terminal to catch his 9:00 am flight.  Once at work, I jumped right into working on a database, getting my friend the star db developer to sit with me as we pounded out some code.  We were both deep in coding brain, and idiot coworkers kept coming by with nonsense.  There was a group of guys in particular who never seemed to do anything but watch TV all day.  When the second one of them stopped by and said "Hey!  Didja hear?  A plane hit the Twin Towers?!"  we shut my office door and put a sticky note on it that said "We KNOW!!!  DND."   We assumed it was a private plane, because big real commercial planes don't do that.

Then an IM popped up from another, more trustworthy source, telling me to turn on CNN.  I did, and our jaws dropped.   That was some serious damage for a little plane.  Then we saw the second plane hit - it happened just after I'd turned on the TV.  Now, whenever I see that shot or think of it, I immediately tear up.  Then, I went instantly into denial.  I could not process it.  Another IM popped up from an intern, wanting to know if it was terrorism, wanting to know if it was, why the WTC?  I typed back "Yes, and there are probably planes in the air for buildings in DC right now."  Then I thought, "Oh shit, there are probably planes in the air for DC right now."

My friend left for his desk to call his wife, who sometimes works at a government building.  I wanted to call everybody - State, the Pentagon, the White House, the Capitol, the CIA, hell, the Smithsonian - and tell them to Get Out!  But I couldn't.  There was nothing I could do except be glad Robert was safely away from DC, answer all the people coming and asking me if this was al-Qaeda, mindlessly watch TV.  Then came the announcement about a United flight missing from Dulles.  Or something.  All I know is that my brain finally put it together that Robert was on a trans-continental flight from a DC airport, and his plane could've been grabbed, and I was on the phone to United.

They actually answered - normally you can't get a person on the line, but they answered and were nice, and explained they had no information but had asked all their flights to land at the nearest airport.  I went over to my friend's desk to tell him I was going home, and to suggest that we all do the same, as, like I said, close to Dulles.  Over his shoulder I saw the TV, and there was only one tower.  I remember blinking at it, thinking, how weird, from this angle it looks like there's only one tower.  Then he asked if I'd heard State Dept had been bombed.  I hadn't, but I doubted it; spending all that time working the al-Qaeda target meant I had some idea of what they'd pick as targets, and Main State wasn't it.

A United plane hit the Pentagon.  Another friend, who lived in an apartment overlooking the Pentagon, was running late as usual, and saw it happen.  He called me, asked what flight Robert was on.  I started to come unglued.  Our boss had said there was no official leave for work, but I left anyway; I was going to melt down and didn't want to do it at work, and no one had my work number, not even Robert.

My friend from near the Pentagon met me at my house and we watched TV all day.  By the time I got home, I had messages from all over the States, all my family and Robert's.  I returned calls as I could, saying that Robert was somewhere, but not on United 93 and I'd let them know.  I have no idea how all these phone calls got through.  I zapped quick emails to friends in NYC: "If you are reading this, I guess you're okay but please let me know!"

Around 2:00 pm Robert called.  His plane had been grounded in South Carolina.  At first they'd thought it was a technical problem, but when they deplaned they saw the news.  By this time the news that State had been bombed was playing, so they tried to call State; no answer.  State was transferring to emergency operating locations at the time, but not getting an answer from the Ops Center dismayed them.  So many planes had landed in the smallish town that there were no more rental cars, and Robert's delegation got the last hotel room.  We made various plans, ending up that another spouse would drive her minivan down and pick them up.  He got home safe and sound sometime after midnight.

The next day at work it was quiet.  The constant noise of airplanes taking off and landing at Dulles was gone, and the silence, as they say, was deafening.
Thanks to [profile] casperflea and [personal profile] ste_noni for inspiring me to write this. 

I'm going to keep my FS hat on a moment, and say that I find these movies, especially the ABC piece, irresponsible beyond measure.  9/11 still very much informs our foreign policy; it's still an active, living, breathing problem.  The purveyors of media like the ABC piece are making things up that will be taken as historical fact, and will be used by the public to demand certain courses of action.  al-Qaeda is a huge part of our foreign policy, and to create pressure to base that policy on lies is criminal.
zonewombat: (serenity label)
It's August and Athens is dead.  It's a ghost town.  It's got the population density that it had 10 years ago, or so I'm told.  It's actually not as empty as in previous years, because a lot of Athenians can't afford to take their August vacation to another country, but mostly everyone is at least getting to an island.

All our professional contacts can definitely afford to be elsewhere, though, and are.  So there's nothing doing at work.  Thus, today the couple other guys that are hanging around and I cleaned our office suite.  Bags and bags of trash and general crap.  Among the detritus we found:

- An old flagpole stand homemade from 2x4 boards<br>
- CDs by Cher, Hole, Al Green, and Duran Duran<br>
- Two boxes of mass building powder<br>
- 7 embassy phones that no longer work and were stuffed in a cabinet<br>
- 25-30 YA romance novels published in the 1980s (Sweet Valley High and cheap knockoffs)<br>
- An unopened bottle of ginger-flavoured currant wine (remains unopened)<br>
- Jimmy Hoffa<br>
- A sign reading "Beware of Leopard."

The guys also cleaned the fridge out, found and cleaned the microwave, and found and cleaned the coffeepot.  In this process they threw out my milk, which a) had my name on it and b) had been purchased yesterday, but I guess I can forgive them, as nuking the site from orbit was the only way to be sure.


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