Where Were You and What Were You Doing?

Much like the generation a few years before me who can recall exactly where and what they were doing the day John F. Kennedy was assassinated, I remember exactly where and what I was doing when I experienced the details of 9/11.

I woke up excited about starting a new job that very day. I was also anticipating my morning routine which was to be another first, enjoying my newly self-renovated bathroom spa completed just the day before. It was a tiny house that had a series of jumbled closets and rooms adjoining the bathroom that I knocked out and reclaimed for the bathroom. An entire corner of this room was devoted to floor to ceiling dressing mirrors with an infinity effect, a jet tub with a steam shower. I found that my new morning routine had increased by an hour.

When I emerged from the tranquility chamber I was greeted with anxious and nervous energy. My supercharged alarmist roommate was hyperventilating in the next room on the phone, computer, and to himself and me, “Get in here…get in here now”, he screamed. I went to the next room to find out what or who was bothering him now. “A plane…A plane flew into the World Trade Center in New York”, he said rather panicky. I immediately recalled one of those weird event documentaries on the Discovery or Learning channels about a bi-wing plane colliding with the Empire State building in the 1930’s and said, “Is that all, that sort of thing has happened before. Stupid pilot what was he doing flying so close to the World Trade Center anyway”. The roommate was now curled up in a ball watching the coverage on the television while he sputtered, “No! This is completely different. A jet plane flew right into it and the whole building is now on fire and people are scrambling around. It’s a mess”.

I looked at the T.V. and saw what was going on and thought, oh those poor people and boy was this going to be bad and how the media coverage is going to be relentless for the next few weeks. Then I recalled similar events when the space shuttle disaster occurred. I was again getting out of the shower heading to a college history class. I said to myself, screw the history class I’m watching history being made right this minute. A point I argued and won with the professor when he tried to dock me for the absence.

I wasn’t able to rationalize the same argument when it came to missing my first day at a new job. I gathered my things and dashed off to work. When I arrived the whole place was deserted. I found a few of the early bird workers in the lounge huddled around a small T.V. watching the first tower as it imploded. When the boss arrived he announced, “Hey everybody this is the new guy”. To which a few people turned around and nodded hello. Then the boss made another announcement, “I don’t think we’re going to do much business today so I think we should close up shop and head home”.

To this day when I finish my morning routine I turn on the news channels to see if there is a reason to continue getting dressed. In some instances there has been an even more sense of urgency to get going like the day hurricane Ivan suddenly swept back over central Florida into the Gulf of Mexico and had reformulated into a category 4 storm headed straight to my front door in less than 24 hours. The race was on to get to the grocery store, the tobacconist, and the Home Depots! As much as I despise the current state of news media organizations I have to admit they have been on occasion responsible for lighting a fire under my butt and kicking into gear my survivalist mode.

So, Where were you and what were you doing when you learned of the events that fateful day of 9/11?


  1. I was at work and Ex called to tell me about the first plane hitting. I tried to bring up the CNN web page, but it was hosed from overload.

    Our group was in charge of the AV equipment in the conference auditorium, so I headed there. In the control room, I got CNN on TV and saw what was happening. Switched on the two large projector TVs so co-workers could drift in and watch. I continued to channel hop in the control room and changed the projectors as news developed between NYC, DC, and PA.

    The most startling memory I have was of all flights being grounded and jet fighters flying combat air patrol over our cities. I never thought I would see anything like that.

  2. The bartender from the night before calling me and waking me up telling me that we were under attack & to turn on the television. So of course I headed straight to the bar.....
    Sitting there with the drinking half of town (Butler NJ), I found myself being horrified but not shocked. Yet I was shocked that so many people were shocked.

    A few of us took a ride (10 min.) to the top of a mountain, by the time we got there all one could see of downtown was smoke.

    Thank God it was my day off from working at Grand Central that day.

  3. I was at home, playing on the cimputer watching the Today show and watched the whole horror live while regularly scheduled aircraft took off and landed at Port Columbus - we live eight blocks north of the street that parallels their approach - the actually airport is a couple miles east.

    I was home because I had worked late the evening before (9-10-2001) with my coworker Barb and we had another late evening work function in Dayton on 9-11-2001. On the 10th, we had done Board training the evening before in Cleveland and on the way home that night we just couldn't get over what perfect September day we had to travel in.

    As fate would have it we were out last night treating our neice to dinner and who should we bump into but Barb (since retired) and her husband. I asked her if she knew where she was 10 years ago at that moment and she said yes - we were in your car.

    Thankfully, this 9-11 turned out much better.

  4. I was just finishing up class, when a coworker told me what had happened as I descended the stairs.
    I didn't understand or comprehend. When I got to the break room, I saw the tv had been wheeled in there and I felt like I'd been punched in the stomach.
    I went to my next class and I announced to them what had happened and told them they'd never forget this day...then we discussed Grendel.
    I can't really stand thinking about that day still.

  5. home, sleeping in thanks to a closing shift at work.

    i could hear my roommate running around saying, "we're under attack!"

    i leapt out of bed, and told him to turn on CNN...if anything was happening it would be on.

    we both watched, silently, the first tower burning.

    i walked away, to take a shower, start getting ready for work. before i started dressing for work, i turned on the tv in my bedroom. i watched the second plane hit.

    i walked in a daze to work, stopping along the way to watch giant jumboscreens relaying the images.

    i was about 35 minutes late for work. no one noticed.

    i worked my shift (though i don't know why -- hardly ANYONE came in) and hurried home to let the TV clarify all the different stories i'd heard throughout the day.

    never forget.

  6. i was putting a pink ribbon sticker on my car.

  7. Working a night shift on the mental health unit. Early hours of September 12th. Eventually got the patients settled to sleep and so took a break to sit and watch what I thought was part of the late late movie! Only to find myself watching it all unfold Live over a direct feed from the states on the TV!... Took me a while to realise that

    A) It wasn't a movie I was watching...
    B) That none of us were in Kansas anymore.
    And C) the World would never be the same again.

  8. Miss Janey was arriving at work- the 6 am shift- Pacific time. The security guard at the front desk told her, "A plane flew into the WTC." She rushed upstairs- no one else in the call center knew a thing. Miss J logged on her computer- all she could get on the Yahoo page was a picture of the tower after the first hit. She called Mr. J at home & had him put the TV on. People were all wondering aloud about terrorism, then the second plane hit leaving no doubt. An hour later, the office closed. The company had numerous employees in NYC & at the Pentagon. Fortunately, we didn't lose anyone. The Janeys were glued to the TV all day. It was surreal. Miss J hopes its the worst thing she ever has to see.

  9. Thank you to everybody for taking the time to think back, recall and write down where you were and what you were doing when you heard the news of 9/11. It’s an unusual memory and one that will be with us all forever and as many of you have said one that changed the world.

    I still pray for whirled peas.

  10. Give Peas a Chance!

    I remember those awful atrocities as if it was yesterday. I'd been shopping for towels, I didn't have a single matching towel in the house, can you believe that? Anyway, I came home, laden with shopping bags, kicked my heels off and started to unpack, I had the strangest feeling, had I forgotton something? After unpacking my purchases and everything was put away, I turned on the telly and it was showing the events happening in NY and those evil rag heads dancing and cheering in the streets brought bile to my throat. Then I suddenly remembered what it was I had forgotton to buy, you guessed it... Towels!

  11. I was in a dirty rotten shit bin called a museum and I was the "head" of it. It was a Thursday and in the afternoon I turned on the tv - in fact I had to bring my own computer to this place (!) it and had a tv-card - and saw tower one burning. I saw the other plane crash in and even the news people stood open mouthed. It was clear that was no more accident, rumours about other planes were reported. I called the head of the administration and told him to switch on a radio or a tv or something - after that I went home. I was sure that we would see something like another war.
    My job in the shit bin ended at the end of September. I gave them a hard beating and went away never looking back.