September 11, 2001 is a day we will never forget. For me, that morning started out the same as any other Tuesday. I remember about 8:50am I went in to Bay 1 at our old building to check in with a client that had just arrived. After a few minutes of conversation I walked out of the edit suite and through the machine room towards my office. As usual, we had the various morning shows on the monitors and for whatever reason The Today Show was up on the monitor with audio so I heard Matt Lauer and Katie Couric reporting the first pieces of information, that a plane had flown in to the World Trade Center. Like most, I figured this was a bad accident and an inexperienced pilot flying a small plane just messed up so I looked for a minute and went back to my office. A couple minutes later I heard a couple people yell from the machine room so walked back there to see what was going on when someone said another plane crashed and I remember thinking “this is no accident”.
It’s strange what you remember about days like that. People remember where they were when President Kennedy was shot, or when we landed on the moon, or when they heard about the Space Shuttle Challenger exploding. There are 3 stories that I remember from that day. First, as information started coming in about an hour after the first planes crashed, it was confirmed that one of the planes originated in Boston. My brother travels a lot for work and back then, before it was as common as it is now, I used to know when and where he was going and I knew he was in Boston that weekend. I immediately though the worst and couldn’t get in touch with my mom for a few minutes. It was only about 10 minutes but it seemed like hours, but about the same time I got in touch with my mom in which she told me she heard from my brother and he was ok, it was reported that the plane from Boston was going to Los Angeles and not Chicago. I’ll never forget those 10 minutes waiting to hear if my brother was on one of the planes. My brother was stranded in Boston for an extra day then rented a car and drove back to Chicago, where he lived.
The next thing I remember was that our Sr. Audio Mixer’s wife was in New York that week for work. Rob was nowhere to be found the first hour or two after the planes crashed and with all the chaos nobody really even noticed. I remember standing in the machine room and someone saying “Linda’s in New York”. I immediately went to find Rob and he had not heard from Linda yet. As time passed during the day and things seemed to be getting worse before they calmed down I just kept thinking that Linda was fine and it was just the communication problems that was keeping us from hearing she was safe. Thankfully, that ended up being the case.
The last piece of the story that I remember was our client Rod, from Wichita, Kansas. He was in town that week to do the final edit on an important historical video for his company. I remember weird things about that project. I remember the Saturday before watching the Notre Dame – Washington football game and Rod calling a number of times during the game to confirm details and talk about process. Monday came and Rod had traveled to Orlando and we were excited for a great week with him. September 11 aside, the project was a tough one. Rod’s off-line editor had not completed a lot of the edit and didn’t supply us with all the elements we needed so a 4-5 day on-line/color correction project ended up being a 5 day edit that included spending 2 days finishing the off-line that was not completed before we got it. Monday came and went and then it was Tuesday the 11th. Rod was the client I was talking to in Bay 1 before we saw the planes start crashing. Rod was with us all week, nothing will overshadow the events of September 11 but besides that, Rod had a tough week. He lost his wallet for 2 days and until a couple hours before his flight on Friday he didn’t know if he would get out of town. In addition to all flights being cancelled for a couple days, what most don’t remember is that there was also a tropical storm that went across the state late in that week as well. With all of the attention given to the terrorism it was the least covered tropical system ever.
From the minute the second plane hit the World Trade Center I was glued to a TV the rest of the day and the rest of the week. If I was in my car I was listening to everything on the radio. I don’t think I slept more than 3 hours per night that whole week. I watched as much of the coverage as possible, it actually became a bit of an obsession. Like a lot of people I wanted answers- answers about survivors, answers as to why, answers to everything. I live not far from Orlando International Airport so I am accustomed to the relatively constant sound of planes taking off and landing and I hate it. It’s annoying when you miss what is said on TV or having to talk louder in conversations because of a plane going over our house. But for the few days after September 11 when all flights were grounded, it was the saddest peace and quiet ever.
Some things have changed since September 11. Going through an airport is definitely different. I remember being able to leave my house 1 hour before a flight. It would take 15 minutes to get to the airport, 5 minutes to check my luggage curbside, 10 minutes to get through security and take the monorail/tram to my gate and get there just as they started boarding. Those days are over. One thing that changed immediately after September 11, something I wish would come back a bit, is that everyone seemed to keep things in perspective more and be more courteous to each other. I remember driving in my car in the days after September 11 people were so polite. Everyone seemed more thankful for each and every day we have. People may have been angry but they were not angry at each other, which was nice. Just like most things though, over time that has changed. People are back to being aggressive and angry at each other, people these days seem to be so angry. I would never wish something like September 11 again, but I do wish people remember how we felt about each other and get back to being a calmer friendlier society.