9/11 memories

I was teaching CompSci at Marianapolis Prep in northern Connecticut in late 2001.

I'd just come off a stint of working the Beltway in D.C. – specifically at the Pentagon as a contractor; setting up email systems for the Coast Guard on Banyan VINES just to date things. The company I'd started had run it's course and I was basically teaching as a bit of a vacation from the pressure cooker that is D.C..

It was pretty early in the morning, and I was still getting ready for the day. I had the door to my room open and was preparing to head over to the school building across campus to get some breakfast… See, Marianapolis is a boarding school, so on top of being a teacher I was also in charge of one of the halls in St. John's, but my class was in the afternoon so my mornings were pretty leisurely once the students were sent off at around 7am.

One of the other dorm supervisors ran in asking if I'd seen the news – something about a plane crash. I followed him down to the recreation area where the big screen TV was running the news and the admin folks from St. John's were congregating.

There on the TV was one of the Trade Center towers on fire. It was a bit surreal, and I kept thinking it was some sort of Hollywood special effect – like something being done for a new movie or something.

The news folks were saying it was a plane crash, and I was thinking 'private plane' – like a Cessna or something. It was only a few minutes after the impact, so they'd not had a chance to create slick graphics and whatnot yet.

The room was just sort of quiet – no one really saying much of anything and letting the news folks fill in the silence. They started talking about hijackings, and then the second plane hit the other tower – live.

That's when I knew this was something serious.

At this point the news became a mishmash of conjecture, opinion, and plain old guessing as the FAA turned New York into a no-fly zone.

I guess it was about an hour later that we saw the news about another plane hitting the Pentagon… At least, that's what it sounded like. The news was in turmoil and every channel had a different set of 'facts'. Then the FAA essentially grounded everything with wings over North America and D.C. pretty much evacuated amidst fears of more crashing airplanes.

It was then that the school released the students for the day, so I was gearing up to spend the rest of the day plying my psyche degree to help a bunch of teens deal with a pretty shocking event.

And at 1 minute to 10, just as the students were all filing into the rec room, the first tower collapsed.

Seven minutes later another plane crashed into a field and is suspected of being another terrorist situation.

Thirty minutes after that, at about 10:30, the other tower collapses.

The rest of the day was spent pretty much talking to students, organizing phone calls to family, taking phone-calls from family, and just trying to be available and present.

Through the whole thing I don't really recall being phased – it was just this thing going on that was impacting folks that needed some tending to. But I'm not really the panic or get upset type, and the worse the situation, the more focused and non-emotional I get… Probably a military thing.

So that's 'where I was' on 9/11…