Friday, September 11, 2009

The morning of September 11th, 2001, I was in my office at the HUD, in Washington DC. I was listening to sports radio, when the mentioned that an airplane had crashed into the World Trade Center. At the time, the thought was that a pilot has lost control and crashed a plane accidentally, and the radio hosts I was listening to made a joke to that effect. A short time later, these same sports radio hosts mentioned another plane had crashed into the World Trade Center, and then immediately, the sports talk show switched from ESPN to ABC radio, and I knew something was going on.

I attempted to call my girl at the time, but the signal was busy. I attempted to call my parents, my son, my brother, and I was unable to get through to anyone. Not on the office phone and definitely not on my cellphone. I tried to email folks, but clearly that wasn't working either, because no one was responding and I wasn't receiving anything either. Then some of my co-workers started running into my office saying a plane had crashed into the Pentagon, and there were terrorists on the Mall (that was later proven false). HUD had urged everyone to evacuate the building, and at first I grabbed my things to roll out, and then I thought better of it. Based on what others were saying in my office, the subway and buses were packed, cabs were hard to come by, and most people were just walking on foot away from the downtown area. From my window (which allowed me to see the Pentagon in the distance) I saw smoke and sirens everywhere, and I knew I had to get home. But still, I didn't move..

I knew that no planes were going to fly into HUD building, because it was physically impossible, considering it was between two other buildings. So I sat down, turned my computer off, and just listened to radio coverage for a good 90 minutes or so. I heard people urging me to leave and go home, but I had no desire to navigate monstrous crowds, so I took my chances in the federal building. Finally, at about 11am, I walked out of the HUD building, and the security guards tried to upset that I was still there, but they really weren't. I walked out of the building and down to the subway, and it was EMPTY. The entire 30 minute ride home I saw 2 other people on the train, and that was it. When I got off the train, and walked towards my apartment building, I didn't see anyone on the road or the street, except for homeless folks. There were tanks going down main streets and police officers urging citizens to go home and stay there until further notice. I finally got to the apartment my brother and I were sharing at the time, and we hugged each other, and we just traded stories about what had happened over the past couple of hours. Then we both sat in front of the tv, and just watched the whole thing unfold.

Later that day, I was able to speak to my son and my parents and my girl, but no one really wanted to talk. People were fixated on the television. I remember being sick of the coverage, and wanting to watch some kind of sports, but there were none to be found on that day, the next day and the day after that. It was just 9/11 news all the time on every channel, which just magnified the seriousness of the situation. I never feared for my life at all, which was odd, I just remember saying to myself, "This is going to change things in a big way".

I really started to avoid writing anything about this day, because tributes are being done all over the damn place, including right here in my home city. But I'm off today and I have nothing but time on hands, so I simply couldn't help reflecting.

Fragile(live) - Sting
Sting performed this song live on September 11, 2001 in Italy.


scout said...

Thanks for sharing that, Rashad. I'm sure it was a much different experience for you living right there in NYC. I happened to be dropping my car off for service that morning so I heard it on the radio while being driven back home and I just remember being very angry and voicing my conspiracy theory for the other passengers to hear :( They all sat quietly while I went on a nutso tirade. I believe it shocked us all and is still unbelievable to me to this day.

rashad said...

Thank you scout. I was in DC though. I'm sure things were MUCH worse in NYC.