Tuesday, September 12, 2006

my 9/11 story

9/11 2001 i worked at washingtonpost.com. i lived 1.7 miles from work. i had just got done running and stretched out for my morning stretch in front of the news. i turned on the tv to see a plane crashing through a twin tower.

i thought this must be a caricature. but the cbs replay was in one of the tv corner. and then it flashed to the pentagon. i still couldn't believe my eyes. i called my boss.

he mumbled something and hung up. i didn't hear what he said but knew i had to get to work.

i got there as quickly as possible.

the tech team divided up. it was our job to keep the website up so frightened people could find out about loved ones. it was decided that the dynamic, high band-width part of the site should be moved onto a second home page. one of my team members took most of the images to an image storage facility we paid for... taking the burden off of our servers.

most of my team of four was told to monitor web servers for hackers. i had a cluster of three to monitor.

the day was a total blur. what i remember was going back and forth from the tv screen cluster in awe, just shaking my head. i remember finding out i had lost an ex-coworker, vicki yancy. my heart goes to her family. had i not quit a previous job i could have been with vicki.

i remember my ex boyfriend calling me with a frightened voice. he explained he was calling everyone.

we all called everyone that day. everyone was worried that someone may have had an inadvertent trip to the pentagon. we *all* called our new york friends... with the rest of the nation.

proudly we were the only major news national web site with over 98% availability that day.... thanks to someone's quick thinking (i can't take any credit)

the next morning (9/12) i decided to run to work. i was sitting at my desk having a telephone conversation. i had to hang up the phone mid-sentence. i couldn't breathe. i told my coworker.

he said, "i'll call an ambulance".

i said no, "it's just asthma, probably (i didn't know... i just didn't want to get hauled out on an ambulance in front of my whole work space)".

a coworker rushed up with an inhaler. it did no good. i'm glad my other coworker had ignored my ambulance protestation. the stretcher showed up instantly.

i was hauled off to arlington hospital. i remember the sounds of the fighter air craft flying overhead in the short ambulance trip. mostly because my father had taught me they are not allowed to fly over cities. they were there that day.

i sat there in E.R. there with so many with needs much greater than mine. i was merely frightened. i still couldn't breathe but there were burn victims coming in one-by-one as they dug them out of the wreckage. they hand bandages over pieces of their face and/or hands or everywhere.

finally, two hours later i rang the bell of the nurse when i couldn't feel my extremeties anymore. please, don't think i'm feeling sorry for myself. i'm not. they did a wonderful job and they had so much to deal with. i was only in mild trouble, not like those around me.

they gave me a breathing mixture which put me to right quickly. i'll never forget that scene in the ER that day. i'm sure it was much worse throughout new york and pa but it made an impact on me.

they said i had inhaled the still burning jet fuel running up the steep hills next to courthouse metro in arlington. it is invisible and it had burned all night. they said many people came in for breathing traumas.

i thank my coworkers (i don't work there anymore). but i will never forget those days. the days of 9/11 and the days after. the grief the nation felt.

i bow my heart in silence for the victims of 9/11, of terrorism, of war. each life has a value and should never be squandered.

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