Flying from East Coast to West Coast on 9/10 seemed pretty ordinary. We boarded our flights, departed on time, arrived on schedule. Even enjoyed an early evening dinner, which seemed par for the course, given the fine seafood restaurants in the area. The following morning everything changed.
I needed to wake up extraordinarily early (5AM Pacific time) due to many meetings scheduled at Microsoft. The commute was roughly 1-2 hours with traffic. Being a regular customer of the SeaTac Marriott, I chatted with the chef before heading on my road trip. While discussing the weather and catching up with what was new in our lives, we both noticed on the television what appeared to be a prop plane hitting or grazing the World Trade Center. We thought that seemed strange. Knowing that traffic would be congested soon, I headed out.
While driving down Interstate 405, I listened to NPR as I had dozens of times when making this trip. Suddenly things seemed different. A second plane had struck the World Trade Center. News was coming in quickly. We were under attack by terrorists. At the same time, I noticed unusual activity in the bay easily seen from the expressway. The activity looked to be military in nature.
Soon, I arrive at Microsoft and told by security that the campus is in lock down. As I met with friends and clients, there was an eerie feeling. We were unsure of the scope of the attack. News continued to worsen. All on campus were visibly upset as televisions were tuned to MSNBC and ran throughout the day. None of us knew what to do or what to say. Bobby, whom I met with that day, offered to reschedule our meeting. His sensitivity and kindness did not go unnoticed. We remain friends today. Yet, even friends could not help one another comprehend how such an evil act could have occurred.
There remained a feeling of helplessness being so far away from New York (NYC), Ground Zero, Pennsylvania, and Washington DC. In spite of being over 3,000 miles away, the violence felt so close.
Days on end, I would call home and hear the voice of a 6 year old asking, “When will airplanes no longer be grounded Daddy? I miss you and wish you were home.” There were no answers. There was no logic. Innocent people had lost lives while being productive American citizens at work.
When I flew coast-to-coast on 9/10 everything seemed so ordinary. Since that day, so much has changed. My life was spared; many lives were lost and negatively altered forever. Flying on 9/10 does not leave one with a feeling of being lucky.
We must always remember.
“And I know it aches
How your heart it breaks
You can only take so much