Where were you?

At the risk of being just another 9/11 post, I’m going to plunge into what will likely be the most blogged about subject of the day.  Sydney says that every teacher will want to talk about it, so I suggested she ask them where they were and what their perspective on the day was.  After all, most of her teachers were near her age on the day. 

When I was young, people said “everybody remembers where they were when they heard JFK had been shot.”  I remember where I was when I heard Princess Di was gone.  And, I remember where I was on 09/11.

I was at a seminar for the “difficult to employ” at the Texas Unemployment Agency.  It was all white collar people with special skill sets, and at that time, it was white collar people with special skill sets that, like me, were being laid off and replaced with computer software.  I was just another one in the crowd.  The employment situation was good and I wasn’t worried because many companies still found it cheaper to hire someone with skills than invest in new software.  I had waited a month after my lay off to even start looking for work, and during that month, I was reading a book every day or two, and just getting into quilting.  I had two interviews with large travel agency call centers to manage their call forecasts and employee schedules and had many prospects and had been contacted by a third agency, but had nothing on the books yet with them. 

I didn’t file for unemployment until I started to look for work and immediately, they wanted me to come in to attend this seminar so I wouldn’t be unemployed for long.  We’d gotten through the first meeting and were about to begin the second session when the leader was called from the room.  The agency employees were in the breakroom, watching events unfold on tv.  They tried to keep us informed and then let us go, more because they couldn’t focus than because we couldn’t.  We hadn’t seen anything at that time and I couldn’t perceive of it until I’d seen pictures.  I went straight home. 

On the way, I called my Mom because I didn’t know if we were about to lose communications or not and wanted her to know I was okay.  And, to say I love you.  I rushed home and put a blank tape in the VCR and hit record and watched the day as it happened. 

By September 13, I had no interviews scheduled, no prospects, no special, and therefore desirable skills, nada.  And, from there on, finding work was next to impossible.  In January, I was called back to my previous employer to do the same job I’d been laid off from in a different department (that whole affording the software thing).  I went to work two days before my severance benefits and unemployment expired. 

And, it affected how I feel about work and job.  And, what I’m willing to put up with to keep them both.  And, it subsequently led to events that changed how I felt about my government and my country’s security and the word “enemy”. 

In a movie,  there’s a line where an old man is talking to a young person that wants revenge and the old man says something like, and can you look into the hearts of these bad men and know that they are bad and would harm you so that you only kill the bad ones?  Can my perception of enemy pass that simple test?  And, how big is the difference between protection and more revenge?  Or, how narrow?

Okay, so that is enough of the old memory train.  Today, I’m secure and my family is larger.  I have work, home, and hobbies.  And, I have happiness.  There’s a whole lot of stuff I don’t think I can do anything about.  And, there’s a whole lot of stuff I realize I can only do a little bit about, like voting, and I make sure I do all I can of that.  And, then, there’s the stuff I have a lot of control over, like living happy or fearful.  I’ve decided to choose happy, thank you very much.

Be well.  Have a great Wednesday.  Remember, and at the same time, remain in the moment.



Mary said...

A very thoughtful post on a day full of reflection. As always, well said.

Tammy said...

Thinking of 9/11 always brings tears to my eyes. I was strike captain on a picket line in front of my office. I worked for the Canadian federal gov't. When second tower was hit, our national strike ended abruptly, because we work in security, immigration, border services and of course the airports. We went back to work to receive airplanes that were diverted from American airspace. I went home to watch tv where the horrors unfolded for days. 9/11 changed my life. I love harder and live every day to the fullest.

Andra Gayle said...

I was at home with my two young children and watching the news, trying to comprehend, then watched as the second tower was destroyed. Very scary, very sad.

ga447 said...

It is an emotional day today, being an original New Yorker it hit hard. I don't want people to forget. It is sad because hardly anyone in my neighborhood has a flag out today.

ga447 said...

It is an emotional day today, being an original New Yorker it hit hard. I don't want people to forget. It is sad because hardly anyone in my neighborhood has a flag out today.

JoAnne said...

Twelve years ago I lived at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas. I got up and turned on the news as I do everyday. Immediately they broke in live with a report that one of the towers was on fire. That maybe a plane "accidentally" hit it. As I watched, the second plane appeared and hit the other tower. It was no accident. I called my husband at work and told him. He is in the Army and so everyone at his office went to a place with a television to watch. Then we heard about the Pentagon. Every friend we know that worked there at the time went through our minds and prayers.

My daughter was a freshman in high school at the time. She was still home because she had a morning orthodontist appointment. While we were driving, the first tower fell. I dropped her back at school, even though other parents were picking up their kids. I felt a "normal" day of school would be beneficial to her. I got home in time for the second tower to fall. I got my things because our Army wive's quilt bee was meeting. It was a comfort to gather together. Rumors were flying that they would close the border with Mexico. Also, Fort Bliss was the home of Air Defense Artillery. These soldiers had to ask themselves hard questions like "Could I shoot down a commercial aircraft full of my fellow citizens in order to save hundreds of other lives? Luckily it wasn't necessary, but that is one tough scenario to imagine.

By the way, when my husband reached into his pocket during the day, he found that the only change he had was a quarter. And it was a New York quarter.

As an army wife, I knew what was in store for our family, and by January my husband was gone to Kuwait.

A couple years ago, on one May day, my husband was in Afghanistan. The phone rang and he said he was returning the favor. Since I had called him to tell him about the attack, he was calling me to tell me that Bin Laden was dead.

Kath said...

You know, we were having the exact conversation here in England today. None of us could recall where we were when Mr Kennedy was killed, as we were too young, but we all remember with perfect clarity the day of the destruction of the twin towers. My son said he was walking home from school when a class mate told him the news and he thought it was some kind of hoax. I remember feeling the same way. I was working on an upholstery project downstairs in our home. I had the TV on in the background and images of the smoking first tower were flashed across the screen, interrupting the regular programme. I could't believe what I was seeing, I called my husband down, who was working upstairs, saying "You better come down and see this, there's something really frightening happening in America".
The British people were in shock, it was all we talked about for weeks afterwards. The haunting images of survivors being brought from the scene, the rescuers filthy, exhausted and yet determined to carry on, touched us all deeply. Then in the days that followed, we heard the last phone messages of the people trapped on the doomed flight, calling home to tell their families, for the last time, how much they loved them. My family was moved to tears to hear those recordings.
I hope that the people of America know that hundreds of miles away,in Britain, there was a whole country who cared very much and were desperately sorry about what happened that day and have not forgotten.

Rebecca Grace said...

I was supposed to be on a plane that day, flying home from Chicago with my 9-month-old son after a Labor Day visit with family. My husband was already home and back at work, and ours was one of the many flights canceled that day, stranding us until commercial flights resumed. But that really drove home to me that it could have been us on those flights. My sister lost a friend who worked in the World Trade Center -- ironically, a Muslim friend.

Lars's classes were talking about it at school yesterday, too, and he didn't even know that he was supposed to be on a plane that day.

Lady Di, John Lennon, JFK, Pearl Harbor, and before that probably the stock market crash... It seems that every generation has that "where were you when" moment.

Anonymous said...

One thing that JFK's assassination taught my generation was that a nation can think the world is coming to an end but it really doesn't. Many kids in my 10th grade class thought we would have no president. The country would collapse. As to 9/11.. look back, we survived although many were killed or made sick. Our reaction to the attack killed many more. Which is worse, being attacked or striking back and wrecking more people's lives?

lw said...

I was getting ready for work at Hughes Space and Communications. I worked that day, though the north campus by LAX got the day off. Two of my coworkers were on the plane that hit the Pentagon, Chad Keller and Reuben Ornelas. Both great guys, and great coworkers. A few weeks later, we had a beautiful ceremony for them at work. It's only luck that we didn't lose more-- we had a subcontracts team out in Boston who were supposed to fly home that morning out of Logan. We finally heard from them around noon, that they hadn't finalized the contracts and stayed over. Thank God for that.