I was in the shower when the first tower was hit. I heard the phone ringing as I was washing my balls. I knew it was my girlfriend, but I didn’t answer. As I was drying off in the living room, with the TV already on, when I saw a passenger plane fly through the second tower.
I read something Robert DeNiro said about the attacks on the twin towers in New York City, eight years ago today. He said that he could see the smoke from the buildings from the window of his high-rise apartment. But it wasn’t until he turned on CNN and watched–with his back turned to the window–that he felt like the attack was “real.”
Surely, lots of people called in sick to work that day. I did not. I was working second shift at UPS at the time–loading large package trailers for low pay and tuition reimbursement–and it was clear that neither rain nor sleet nor militant extremists were shutting down the nights sort. I remember standing at the urinal during break when two men of Arab descent–guys that I knew worked there, for years, probably–came in. I wasn’t able to relax until I realized that slitting my throat while I was taking a piss probably wouldn’t make for much of a conquest in the eyes of whoever was responsible for the day’s events.
I remember being wholly unaware as I watched the news night after night, waiting for somebody on TV to tell me what the hell was going on. Peter Jennings was in my living room for a week–more time than he or his other network counterparts would ever later occupy, combined–as I took copious notes on what was happening. I still have them.
“Teams, 3-5, armed only with knives.”
“Plane 1. WTC. 50k people worked.”
“Plane 2. WTC.”
“People still alive in buildings. Jumping out of windows.”
“Collapse 18 minutes apart.”
“600 victims treated.”
“Emerg. vehicles trouble getting to scene.”
“MISSING: 78 NYPD.”
“250 FDNY pres. dead. 300+ missing.”
“Plane 3. Pentagon. Army, Navy offices not shut down, functioning. 800 killed.”
“Plane 4. United 93. 38 passengers. 7 crew. Boeing 757. Pennsylvania Stony Creek Township.”
I don’t know how exactly these events have shaped my life, but I know they have. I eventually did call my girlfriend back. She said that the attacks showed that people have to stick together, no matter what.
I dumped her two months later.