Sunday, September 11, 2016

Fifteen Years

It's been fifteen years since the events of 9/11. Hard to believe so much time has passed.  Everyone has a story about where they were that day.  I'm not sure if I've ever told mine on this blog.  So here goes.

A few days earlier, I'd driven to Vegas to meet a friend of mine who was in town on business.  She worked as a lawyer for an alcohol company. (I'm not sure exactly what she did, but it sounds fun.)  As such, she was able to get me into a party they were throwing on September 10th at the Hard Rock.  I don't really drink, but the tacos were free.

I was planning to leave on the 11th.  Around 2 in the morning I wasn't very tired (Las Vegas can do that to you) so I figured I'd drive back right then and make good time.  A bit over three hours later I'd reached the outskirts of L.A.  I was getting a little tired so I pulled off into a mall parking lot and closed my eyes.

I slept maybe an hour.  When I woke up and turned on the radio, it was all over the news. (The attacks started around 9 in the morning out east, which is 6 over here.)  It's now easy for me to imagine a scenario where I was taken in for questioning.  Remember those planes were bound for Los Angeles, and here was this mysterious guy sleeping in his car (a sleeper agent?) in an otherwise empty parking lot.

I got back on the highway and it was packed. I guess everyone was driving back home.   I also noticed there were no planes in the sky, as the government had grounded all flights.  It was an eerie feeling.  I listened to the radio with horror. (I'm sure I checked the news stations, but mostly I listened to Howard Stern.)

The traffic was slow all the way to Hollywood where I lived.  I wanted to get home as soon as possible so I could call my family back in the Midwest to see how they were doing (pre-cell phone days for me) and let them know I was okay.  Only a few days later did I call friends in New York, since I figured they were getting enough calls.  Some of them knew people who died.  One friend had been there in 1993 during the first bombing of the Towers. (Many people have forgotten that attempt.  There was also a guy who planned to bomb LAX on New Years' Day 2000, but was stopped along the way. If he'd succeeded, that might have been our 9/11 before 9/11.)

That night I called my friend in Vegas.  She was having a rough time.   She needed to get back to Chicago, but couldn't.  Her flight had been canceled, of course, and all available cars were rented.  She had to stick around until the end of the week.  Maybe if I'd stayed a bit longer I could have taken her to Los Angeles, where she could have at least rented a car.

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