I was living in Central NJ and teaching a computer class that day in Northern NJ. I was listening to NPR (WNYC) on the way to class. At 8:47 the host announced that a “small plane” had crashed into the WTC. Seconds later there was only static. WNYC’s transmitter was on the roof of WTC1. As I continued to class, more news rolled in.
I arrived a couple of minutes late. My students were already there and of course were watching events unfold on the internet. At 9:03 the second plane hit. One student turned to another and said “how much are we in for?”. They were all from the insurance company that insured the towers. The company would later fight the owners in court.
I tried to teach the class, but I and the students were too distracted. At around 10 I called the class off and sent them home. One student objected, not understanding what the big deal was. A week later, the training company that hired me asked me to teach the class over. For free. I declined and never worked for them again.
On my way home, I knew when I crested a certain hill the top quarter of the towers should be visible. Gone. Nothing but smoke.
My running route in NJ took me along the waterfront with a view of the towers. A week later I could still see, and smell. Just before 9/11 I had fallen from my bike and had stitches in my lip. To my embarrassment, everyone I passed running assumed I was a survivor and nodded gravely.
One true survivor was our neighbor who was told to stay in place. He had survived the attack in 1993, so decided to ignore that order. There was no exit to the stairwell on his floor. He took a couple of coworkers, went up a floor and broke through sheetrock to a room with stairwell access. Everyone else from his office perished. Another neighbor lost a brother and has a wild drunken 9/11 party ever year. Another lost a husband she may not have cared for too much. She lived the high life on the payout.
There were victims, there were heroes, there were jerks. And there were those who took advantage of the crisis to push their agenda. They will do it again.