View Full Version : My 9/11 experience in Manhattan in 2001......

09-11-2008, 05:25 PM
I try to post this every 9/11, so people can get an account of what it felt like in the city, as well as so I remember that day.

I remember getting to work that day around 8:30. I worked across the street from the World Trade Center. I remember that morning, running a little bit late for work, but hurrying as fast as I could, b/c I had an early morning meeting. My ride to the train station called me up and asked if it was ok for her to stop by a little later, b/c she was also running late. She wanted us to take the 2nd train into Manhattan, which was 15 - 20 minutes after the 1st train.

I told her that was impossible, b/c I had a big meeting I had to get to that day....so she hurried up a little, as did I...I made it into work at 8:30, if I had taken the later train, I would've been under the WTC at the time this happened.......I finally made it into work, and took the elevator up 20 floors. I had walked into the reception area in the middle of my floor of my company. I was talking w/ a coworker that had walked in 2 seconds after I did.

All of a sudden, we both heard this loud BOOM, and our building shook. We both looked at each other, wondering what the hell that was. I had thought some kind of truck had crashed into our building, maybe exploding, that's how violent the building shook. Our company made up the entire floor of our building, and I didn't bother going over to the window that faced right into the WTC. I was closer to the window on the opposite end of the building, and so I went over, and tried to look down onto Broadway, to see if I could see anything that happened to our building at street level. About 5 minutes later, my cell phone rang, and it was my brother who worked in the Empire State Building. He didn't know the extent of what happened, he said that I should check the train schedules, b/c a small plane had hit the WTC, so it might affect traffic on my way home tonight.

When I heard that, I walked over to the side of the floor that faced right onto the WTC, and I looked up.......all of a sudden, my heart sank. No way was this some small plane that hit into the building. My first thought was that it looked like a bomb. Reports were that a small plane hit the building, but at the time, I couldn’t conceive it could possibly be a passenger jet. All 4 sides of the building were damaged, so I thought it was an explosion from the inside....I couldn't imagine a small plane could do that. I had thought it was a bomb.

One of my first thoughts was about my uncle (he worked on the 91st floor of the South Tower.) I didn't know what tower he worked in at the time, but I knew he worked in one of the two main buildings. I thought, and hoped, that he wasn't in the tower hit. I called my cousin at work right away (at this time, the news still hadn't really hit the rest of the city, or the country, so I was able to get through.) I didn't know what to say at first, thinking that I may be telling him news about how his father was killed. I told him he should leave work right away and go to his mom's (my aunt's) house, and he should wait there for news from my uncle, I told him what I saw. Turns out, b/c I called him so early, he was able to get the last ferry out of Manhattan that morning, and be w/ my aunt the entire day.

Then, I interrupted the meeting that I was supposed to be in, and broke the news to everyone that if they knew people in the WTC, they should probably try and contact them, b/c something awful just happened.

We all had walked over to the window again, and just stared and stared at what was going on, right across the street.
If you talk to anyone that was there that day, they'll all tell you the same thing. It was just a beautiful, picture perfect day, weather wise......I remember sitting there, thinking that it was like watching a movie, this awful scene pitted against this simply gorgeous backdrop. It really was a crystal clear, warm, early september morning in manhattan. Usually just a great day.....I can't get that out of my head, remembering how great a day it was on the way to work.....

I remember staring at the WTC, and all of a sudden, a fellow worker had exclaimed "oh my god, that's a person." We started to see people jumping. But it was early yet, we all thought she must've mistaken some debris for a person. And all of a sudden, one after the other, we saw people, leaping to their deaths. They were so goddamn close. I remember seeing a man, in his suit, tie flapping in the wind......another man, in khakis.....just one after the other.......I remember a coworker who had originally thought we were watching pieces of debris come to realize the truth. She started screaming "oh my god, they're people!"

Everything from then on seemed as if it were in slow motion......I turned to look at my boss, and she just broke down in tears. I wanted to put my hand on her shoulder, she was only a couple feet away, but I couldn't move, I couldn't grasp at what I was watching. I wish I had turned away that day....I wish I had asked everyone to not watch.....

Then I remember a coworker exclaim "oh my god, another plane!", and he ducked down, as if to take cover. And we looked up, and watched a plane coming straight at our building, nose pointed right at us. Again, slow motion, I felt like I was swimming in molasses. The plane banked at the end, and crashed into the south tower. The fireball just kept getting larger and larger. I closed my eyes, having never seen anything like it, I didn't know how big that fireball was going to get. I thought I was going to die, that the fireball would keep coming, and envelop the floor. I opened my eyes a second later, and everyone ran for the elevators (we were in the tallest building downtown, after the trade center.) I remember thinking if my uncle wasn't in the 1st tower hit, I hope he got out of the 2nd tower, b/c he'd be dead if he didn't get out at that point....
We finally made it downstairs, and a group of us starting walking directly north on Broadway. Never have I seen anything like it. The streets of Manhattan, all these tough New Yorkers, filled w/ terror....asking each other, where do we go? Central Park? No, public place. Midtown? No, empire state building, target. Downtown? No, WTC on fire, planes coming in. All we could all do, is walk North....where, we didn't know, I think we still were in shock.

My cell phone wasn't working, although I kept right on trying.
I finally was able to grab a pay phone, and after repeated tries, was able to reach my brother. At that point, all the rumors were flying, and what my brother told me terrified me even more, terrified everyone I worked with. He told me that next to the trade center towers, that the pentagon was hit, that the white house was on fire, that there was a car bomb on Wall Street....we thought the world was coming to an end......I gave him some coworkers names, and the numbers to their families, b/c he was on a landline, and maybe he could keep trying and reach their families so they'd know that their family was ok.

We kept walking north. All of a sudden, we turn around, and looked at the south end of Manhattan, and the entire area was filled w/ smoke (the 1st tower collapse.) We didn't know what happened, we thought a bomb went off, or that something major happened to the south end of the island, other than the WTC, b/c it never entered into our thoughts that the towers could actually fall.

We kept walking north on broadway, and finally walked into a Wiz (electronics store.) They had their doors open and were letting everyone come in and watch the news on all the tvs. We saw all the smoke, and when it cleared, only saw one tower. I was devastated.....all those people, all that progess......gone.....I remember hoping, praying, asking if there was a god, to please, please keep that 2nd tower standing. I remember thinking, at least leave us one tower, to remember how amazing these things really were....leave us a reminder.......Then all my hopes crashed w/ the collapse of the 2nd tower......Just felt totally helpless, and hopeless.

We didn't know what to do. We figured we'd walk over to give blood at a hospital....Every hospital we went to, there were lines of people for blocks, waiting to give blood. We decided to wait a while, and so we went to get something to eat at a diner. I remember I wanted a tuna melt and french fries....then thinking, wait a minute, screw the french, screw everybody. If it didn't have something to do w/ America, I didn't want to deal w/ it, at that moment. I asked to waitress for a "tuna melt and fries."

Then, when finished, we walked all over manhattan, looking for a place to give blood....when we finally got some chilling news from the hospital staff. They had surplus blood. There just weren't survivors coming out of the site. If people got out, they got out. If they didn't, they didn't. Not too many in-between cases.

We finally managed to get to someone's apartment, where we could sit, watch the news, and gather ourselves.
I managed to get lucky and get on the 1st PATH train to leave Manhattan that night (around 8:30 PM.) Some coworkers drove me home once we got off the train. I made it back home around 10PM that night. I didn't sleep for 2 days straight. I just wanted to watch the news. Didn't want to sleep, didn't want to miss anything, didn't want to feel alone.....watching the news help me feel connected to others.

I have a pretty good memory. If I want to, I can close my eyes and picture anything that has happened in my life. The difference between my regular memories and my memories of 9/11 is that I don’t need to close my eyes to remember the morning of 9/11. If I start to think about it, whatever I’m looking at just seems to melt away, and I’m back there on that day.

By the way, my uncle (who's from Europe) made it out ok. He just went to a bar, ordered a sandwich and a beer, and watched tv all day. He managed (somehow, I still haven't figured out how) to get home by 6 pm. He lost 13 coworkers.

09-11-2008, 05:41 PM

09-11-2008, 05:41 PM
While not quite as personal and powerful as your memories, I too have strong memories of that day that stay with me everyday.

My personal connection is since I live and work near Boston, I have been on those same flights in the past on trips to LA, and actually had some coworkers that were on that flight number, fortunately for me, the day before. The, oh my god, but for the grace of providence I could have been on those planes, is something it took years to put behind me, and even still we now find other ways to have meetings instead of personal travel if possible.

That day changed how I prioritized many things in my life. I really tried to avoid, the lets do that later or tomorrow syndrome when it came to anything involving my family. There is no time better than right now to do whatever it was. It drove home how fragile we all can be.

Peace be with you Mhykke...

09-20-2008, 06:31 PM
i'm a little late but thank you so much for posting that and i hope it is true that time heals all wounds..