11 09 2011

Everybody else is writing about their recollections of September 11, 2001 today, so here’s mine.

The first thing I recall about 9/11 was that it took forever to get to work (it seems trite to write this, but it was my first memory of the day). At the time, my commute took me from Broadview subway station to North York Centre station; the trip normally took a little over half an hour. On the morning of September 11, the commute took over twice as long. I didn’t know at the time that a plane had smashed into the first of the twin towers, and I was mystified by the unexplained delay. I still don’t know whether the TTC was having service problems or whether their transit control was taking precautions in case this was part of a global terror attack.

So I finally got into work, preparing to apologize for being late, when I noticed that everybody was staring somberly at a computer screen. That’s when I found out what had happened. At first, people weren’t sure whether this was a horrible accident or something worse. When the second plane hit, we realized that it was something worse.

After a bit, the CEO of the company told everybody to go home, saying that we should all be with our families on a day like this. So I walked all the way to my parents’ house near Eglinton and Avenue Road, and we spent a large part of the rest of the day looking at the TV screen and thinking gloomy thoughts.

It was only later that I read about the terrible decisions that some unfortunate victims faced: the passengers aboard the plane that was intended for the Pentagon who decided to crash the plane, and the office workers trapped at the top of the World Trade Center who were forced to choose between jumping to their deaths or being burned to death. And this on what was originally a typical day at the office. What would you do under such a circumstance? What would I do? What could anyone do?

Over the next few days, I watched the stock market crash, and watched then-President Bush behave better than he ever had in the past and ever would again. (It was a colossal shame that he took the world’s goodwill and expended it on a pointless and misguided war in Iraq. Talk about the wrong man in the wrong place at the wrong time. Back then, we didn’t know that he was going to turn out to be very bad at being President.) Every morning, I would look out my living room window, which has a great view of downtown Toronto, and wonder whether Al-Qaeda was planning to strike the city in which I live.

The day after the terrorist attacks, WFMU, one of my favourite radio stations, played “O Superman” by Laurie Anderson. The reason for this becomes apparent at about the 2:07 mark:

“Here come the planes. They’re American planes. Made in America.”

I started this post with a trite observation, so I’ll end it with a comment that is probably equally trite: if you, or anyone you know, lost someone 10 years ago today that you cared about, my thoughts and commiserations go out to you.




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