Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Remembering Sept.11, 2001
Our phone rang and Tammy answered. I saw her face furl a bit and she turned to me, "Its Donna, she said a plane has just flown into the World Trade Center."
My first thought was that it was a light plane and a bad pilot. I reached over and flicked on the news. There it was...one of the towers with smoke billowing out. It was both tragic, confusing... and fascinating at the same time. We stared...commented....stared...and commented. And then we watched as another plane slammed into the second tower. And then we knew! We all knew!
I turned to Tammy, "We're under attack!"
I was working as a concierge at the Westin Hotel just south of Boulder Colorado and scheduled to go in. Does one go into work while your country is being attacked by an unknown enemy? What is the protocol for this. I didn't want to leave Tammy and my then 3 year old Gabriel. Eventually a Russian neighbor came over and she and Tammy stayed together as the events unfolded and I rushed off to work.
When I arrived at the hotel the area around my lobby desk was already in chaos. I can't remember exactly when ALL flights were cancelled and the air space over America was shut down but I was immediately thrown into the chore of trying to get guests home by any means other than air travel. I quickly put together a master list of locations around the country where people wanted to go...and it was everywhere. Dallas, Atlanta, New York, and Chicago to name but a few. I had two phones in each ear as I scrambled to get people on buses, planes, and renting cars from agencies that were none to happy about knowing that guests were driving their cars cross country.
I remember a private Denver town car service I worked with offering to drive a guy to Dallas for US$ 1600 ...and having that offer accepted by a man desperate to get home. People that rented cars to travel across country I talked into taking complete strangers to cities they would travel through along the way. I managed to talk one guy going to Detroit into dropping off another guy in Chicago.
I can be quite persuasive...
I worked on this for the next 3 days never really getting thanked by hotel management or given any acknowledgement other than a "Thanks" from a grateful guest heading out the door. But everyone was busy...and we all pulled together selflessly and did our duty. It's unfortunate that it is in these times of tragedy that people's lights seem to shine brightest.
That night our church had a prayer meeting at someone's home. We stood outside on the porch looking at the disturbingly quite sky interpreted occasionally by the fighter jets flying overhead out of Colorado Springs.
I remember looking over at a couple of the others and saying, "It all changes now"
And it did...