Reflections on 9/11/01

Sometimes it’s important to take a break from business to remember the past and all whose lives were stolen from them thirteen years ago. This is Christina’s account of the confusing events of that day.

September 11 is one of those days that marked the start of a new way of life for most of us.  If you were living in the United States during September 11, 2001, you remember the fear and confusion we all felt while watching our country get attacked.  Life changed dramatically that day, in only a few hours our whole mindset switched.

On September 11, 2001, I went into my real estate office early.  By 9:00am I had filed into the conference room with my fellow agents and we were drinking our coffees and learning about new listings.  One of my co-workers arrived late.  She had snuck in the back door, and apologized for being so late by explaining that she got caught up watching the news, and that “a plane hit one of the World Trade buildings.”

The conference room rumbled with low conversations as we all speculated quickly about how the plane probably just flew off course.  Someone asked how many people worked in those buildings, and what it was like there.  “Thousands, it’s like a mini city onto itself.”  Surely, it was an error.  It was a sad event, but it was going to be fixed and addressed quickly with minimal damage.  We continued the meeting.
By 9:30 or so, we were off to review the new listings.  Agents piled into cars.  I jumped into a car with my friend, Millie, and we headed out.  We had been driving for a minute or two before she decided to turn on her car radio “to see if there’s more about that story.”   By this time the news was moving quickly.  Millie moved from one radio station to another in rapid succession, and we both were extremely quiet as we tried to figure out what was happening.  They’re worried about air traffic?  Oh my God, did I just hear that the Pentagon was hit?  How could that be?  They must be wrong.  That’s protected airspace.

Millie and I arrived at the house.  We met up with the other agents.  Some of us had listened to the radio, and some hadn’t.  Our broker in charge was one who had not.  She didn’t understand why we appeared upset.  We were in North Carolina, after all, how could you be so worked up about a small crash in New York. We tried to explain that now the Pentagon was hit, but she didn’t understand the enormity of it yet.

We toured the house like robots and quickly got back in the car.  As we listened to the news, we were frustrated.  There didn’t seem to be any clear information.  Speculation and guesses.  We wanted to go home and regroup.  It was no longer a problem of a small plane crash.  Our world was spinning really quickly.  The word “war” was mentioned.

We stopped at the next house, met the other Realtors, and told them we’re returning to the office to call our family.  Something is way off.  We were scared.  Why was my phone at the office, damn it!

During the 10 minute drive back we didn’t talk.  Each of us was in our own private hell.

First call, my son.  He was at a tire shop, and he was watching TV.  Thank God he was safe.  What did it mean?  I have no idea.  Stay in touch.  Come right home when you’re finished.  I’m coming home too.  I love you.

The second call, my husband.  Why do you sound so upset?  It’s really nothing to worry about.  We’re safe here.  Stop being so worked up.  We’re not at war.  OK, if you go home that’s fine, but I’m not leaving my work.  Yeah, I will put on the radio or find a TV.

I returned to the lobby.  A TV had been procured from somewhere, and the office staff and the agents were gathered around watching.  A TV clip of a plane hitting the tower played repeatedly.  Confusion and fear were apparent on the TV and it was just as palpable in the office.  The receptionist rushed to the bathroom to throw up.  She knew how big the Trade Towers were and how many people worked there.  She was terrified.

By the end of that night, I was still shell shocked, and I had watched even the most unconcerned people convert to join my tribe of fear.  The folks who had visited or lived in NY or had family and friends who lived up in the Northeast seemed to comprehend the enormity of the situation faster than my Southern born friends.
No real estate work was done in that office on September 11, 2001.  In fact, that day most of us just wanted to hug our families and keep them safe.

September 11 is a day to remember that life is to be cherished.  You never know when it can cease.  We are all grateful for the brave people who risked their own lives to help during the crisis that day and the continued agony in all the years after.
Stay safe and say a prayer for life and love.  May our enemies learn to love us, and may they see their own family in our smiles.

Here’s an article that chronicles some of the text messages and recordings of people who were right in the thick of things.


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