20 Years ago it was a Tuesday.
And Tuesday started at 6 AM.
I lived with my parents and since I was going to work at 8 AM I was designated to drop my dad off at the Airport.
My dad was a pilot of United Airlines and has been flying since he was teenager. He’s gone from Peidmont to Ransom Express to Ransom to Pan Am Express to Pan Am to Kuwait Airways and finally to United.
He has said on more than once occasion it’s the best job a kid could have. My brother and I never really got bitten by the flying bug that much, I take purty pictures of them mostly. 🙂
So at 7 AM I drop him off at the Airport and drive onto work.
I worked at the local Cable Company Call Center with lots of Televisions on the walls and whoever gets into work early and has a remote control switches the channels and normally The Today Show would have been on.
At 9 AM CNN.com stopped loading and so did MSNBC. With it being a slow day I gophered up to see if anyone else was having problems. One of the Televisions was showing a tower and smoke coming out of it. One or two people were watching it. I walked over and turned up the volume.
One of the News Anchors was reporting a small plane had hit one of the World Trade Center Towers. O.k., so it was a news story just like when the Russian sub collided with another sub during war games.
I don’t remember if I actually saw the second plane hit the second tower. I rounded the corner at work and FOX News was reporting the Pentagon had just been attacked and was on fire.
A few customers called in about problems with the local news Station out of New York, an email or two had said the antenna’s on the WTC Towers were causing the problem.
Then news began to filter out about a passenger plane.
And, I decided to call my dad’s cell phone.
Digressing for a moment…
Having a pilot in the family means a great many things: First, don’t expect them to be home for Holidays, second expect calls from foreign countries, thirdly finding loose change all over the house that looks like an Arcade Token, taking them to the airport at o’dark thirty in the morning and lastly, listening to the news when the words: AIRLINE DISASTER dominate the screen.
Pan Am 103 was the last major disaster that struck our family indirectly.
First, 103 crippled Pan Am chances of survival only for Delta to buy them out.
Second, Delta went on everyones shit list for promising the world and pulling out once they got the juicy routes which they in turn fucked up on because their name recognition meant diddly that side of the equator.
Back to reality, I called his cell and he answered. Whew. The conversation went like this.
Me: Hi. How’s it going?
Me: Where are you?
Dad: They’re pulling us back to the gate. We know. Flights have been canceled. Rumor is it was one of ours.
The rest of the day is a blur. I watched both towers come down.
My dad and fellow pilots being grounded went to victum’s families to pay their respects.
My brother, who, a few days before had flown down to Texas to train with Southwest to be a bag smasher (baggage handler) was in training when all of this happened.
Later that night, I sent out emails to everyone in the extended family and told them Dad was supposed to fly but was luckily not in the air when it happened.
Days later, Wall Street would re-open and United Stock plummeted. Their woes had begun earlier that year when an unplanned, unknown, announcement about United merging with US Airways sent the stock tumbling and employee’s blood pressure through the roof.
My dad along with several other pilots were flown out to different airports to ferry airplanes home so things could get back to normal.
United went into Chapter 11 along with a few other airlines. Rumors of other airlines getting the word from the higher ups to bury United would later backfire when their work would push themselves into Chapter 11.
20 years later, it’s a Saturday.
I sit at home while a virus that has been politicized to the point of absurdity rages through out the world. I’ve published one book and working a second.
I’m working as a delivery driver for Amazon, a job far removed from my customer service rep jobs of the past.
My dad died six years ago, on his birthday, on a plane headed to Seattle.
My mother has since retired from ICU and works as a hospice volunteer.
My brother has moved onto better things, got married, moved to Seattle, his wife had created the Works Seattle before the pandemic and continues to thrive under her leadership and quick thinking. They have a lovely two lovely twins, a dog named Clover and while they were completely vaccinated they’ve survived a brush with the virus.
And, life continues…