9-11

I woke up when the phone rang. It must have been sometime between 6 and 6:30 am. I picked it up... it was my mom. 'Turn on the television, quick.' Clearly, something bad happened. We turned on the television. There were the WTC buildings, one on fire. A minute later, an object went into the other building, and now both were on fire. No one on TV knew what was happening. As we prepared for work, I watched on the television as the two buildings disappeared into a thick plume of smoke and dust. No one knew what happened initially, but then the realization struck the broadcasters (and us) that something had happened structurally to the buildings. Maybe they had partially collapsed. I remember thinking that tens of thousands of people could be dead, and what difficulty it would be to repair that much structural damage so far up in the air. But there was nothing I could do, so I went to work.

At work, everyone was huddled around a few computers reading cnn.com or watching the initial streaming video of the airplanes. Then, sometime around 10:30, the fire alarm went off. My building was directly in the flight path to San Jose airport, so we took it seriously. Maybe someone saw a plane headed for our building, and pulled the alarm? We raced down 17 flights of stairs, even though we realized it was unlikely an airplane would target the PwC San Jose office. Out on the street, most of us decided to go home. A coworker drove me. I sat at home for a few hours and watched television.

My car was stuck downtown, so around 1pm, I took a bus to the light rail station, and took light rail downtown. On the light rail, the woman next to me had a home-made necklace made out of a postcard of the twin towers on a string around her neck. There was complete silence on the train. I retrieved my car and computer, and came back home, and camped out in front of the TV to watch the news. Some people avoided it. I couldn't.

The next day, I learned that five people from my company died in the airplanes, including one man who was a partner at PwC who I knew, along with his domestic partner and their child. That was my closest connection to a 9/11 casualty.

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