Tuesday, September 11, 2012

9-11-12 Survival Jobs for Writer-Musicians -- Starter Job #206 (Remembering 9/11 on the 11th Anniversary)

(The following was written last year, for East Haddam patch.com
the original patch.com article  -- below photo of me was taken around 2002)

Horror, awe, and curiosity motivated me that gorgeous late summer’s day. I can’t say it was the smartest adventure ever, but circumstances compelled me.
In 2001, I was living in downtown Manhattan and working uptown – at a media planning company in Worldwide Plaza, at 8th Avenue and 50th Street. When the first plane hit the World Trade Towers I was underground, riding the “E” train subway.
I didn’t know what happened until I was at my administrative assistant desk and I saw a swarm of worker bees on the other side of the cubicle farm. Whispers in fearful tones jabbered around me, then—
You know the story.
We were all sent home from work. Bridges, tunnels and subways in Manhattan were shut down, so it left walking home as the only option. Home was four miles, south. My friend, Levi, lived on 47th and Seventh, so I tried calling on my cell phone but couldn’t get through (jammed signals). In an emergency, you crave the company of friends.
He did answer his apartment doorbell, though, shock on his face.
“I’ve got to walk home,” I said, “Or find somewhere to stay.”
“We have to go there,” murmured Levi – another writer, another glutton for unusual experience, Life full-on.
Intending just to walk with Levi until we reached my home (two neighborhoods north of the World Trade Center), I started walking south with him down the West Side Highway. I’d have been content to watch the disaster on TV at home, but no.
Looming directly in front of us, billowing gray smoke oozed from the flames of the crumbling Twin Towers.
“Unreal,” we muttered. Who could believe this was happening? The most brilliant, cloudless cobalt sky was being smoke-smudged. In my platform sandals and long work dress I wasn’t exactly dressed for hiking, but on we trudged, closer to ground zero.
In a series of zigzag maneuvers, we managed to walk to South Ferry in four hours, then come back up to where we could see the smoldering skeletons of the fallen Twin Towers up close. Gray flakes of burned papers and other debris fluttered down. . . I wrapped a bandanna around my nose and mouth, hoping to block any toxic debris.
Really, what WAS I thinking? Levi didn’t talk much while mulling over the enormity of the situation. I kept thinking of the many temp jobs I’d worked at the World Trade towers during the 1990s. . . all the times I stared out of the windows on the 101st, 102nd etc. floors while doing data entry and answering phones.
Finally, close to the Hudson River on the west side, rescue workers spotted us. They practically tackled and threw us onto an ancient tugboat that was waiting for people who genuinely needed rescuing.
We were shipped across the river to Jersey City; eventually found PATH trains to Penn Station in Manhattan; had an argument on the train; went our separate ways. I went home to be with a wiser friend, to cry and pray for the many murdered, innocent souls.
To this day I wonder if I’d have been one of them, in pieces of fluttering gray ash, if I’d taken that office assistant job at AIG on the 102nd floor of WTC One. . . .

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