A Remembrance of 9/10/2001

This week, even in the face of dual threat hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the nation has paused to recall what happened on 9/11/2001.  I was in the living room of our house in Bellevue, carrying suitcases toward the car in anticipation of our annual trek to Ashland, Oregon, when Bill called after me to let me know that a plane had just crashed into the World Trade Center.  I imagined a Piper Cherokee sitting with it’s nose inside a window, but of course, it wasn’t a little plane, and it wasn’t just one, either.

Bill and I stopped packing right then. We sat down and remained glued to the television set in our family room for hours on end, watching that terrible national tragedy unfold.  Much later in the day we decided that if we didn’t make our trip to Ashland to see the plays at the Shakespearian Festival, that would mean that the terrorists had actually won another round.

We finished packing with heavy hearts and drove down, arriving much later than we had originally intended.  And of all the years we spent going to the plays in Ashland, that year was an especially low point.  The comedies weren’t funny, and the tragedies weren’t nearly tragic enough.

But what this blog is really about isn’t that day, the day when the world changed.  It’s about the day before and how I almost WASN’T home in Bellevue when everything went to hell in a hand basket.

Our usual travel pattern was to leave for Ashland on Monday and stay the remainder of the week, departing the following Sunday.  That year, however, one of the major national book suppliers, Hudson News, asked me to do a book signing at a convention in Montreal on Monday, September 10.

You may not have realized this at the time.  I don’t believe it was ever mentioned in any of the media reports I saw, but the convention in question was one that had airport managers from all over the world in Montreal, leaving their second or third in commands in charge or their various airports.  A coincidence perhaps?  I don’t think so!

This was 2001.  I’m not sure which of my books I was expected to sign at the event.  It was either Outlaw Mountain or Breach of Duty, since those would have been in paperback in 2001.  Whichever paperback it was, Hudson News had brought along four hundred copies for me to sign and give away.  At high noon on September 10, they sat me down at a table, handed me a pen, and started having me sign books.  I signed all four hundred copies, and then they threw me in car and off we went to the airport.

I was booked to fly home via Chicago.  The problem is, once I got to the airport, I discovered that due to weather on the East Coast, complicated by a kitchen fire at Laguardia Airport, my flight was delayed.  For a long time.

Once we finally got underway, our flight landed in Chicago with bare minutes for the three Seattle bound passengers to make their connecting flight.  The flight attendants let us disembark firs,t and we set off at a dead run.  O’Hare airport is huge under the best of circumstances, and that night it was particularly daunting.  We were racing along when a black guy driving one of those handicapped golf cars showed up and asked us where we headed.  When we told him, he looked at his watch, shook his head, and said, “You’ll never make it walking.  Get in.”

So we did.  The three of us piled into his golf cart, and off we went!  We zipped down back corridors and through tunnels, dodging through bits of the subterranean airport the public never sees.  We arrived at the departure gate after all the other Seattle bound passengers had boarded the plane, but the door was still open.  We made it on to the flight, but just barely.

I don’t remember if we tipped the driver or even thanked him.  I hope so, because that flight was the very LAST one out of Chicago and into Seattle before the towers came down.  Had I been stranded in Chicago when all hell broke loose, no telling how long it would have taken me to get home.

So that’s what this blog is really about—saying thank you to a man whose name I never knew and probably will never know, but for those three travelers, he was indeed a Good Samaritan.

Whenever my mother couldn’t sort out which of her kids’ mostly J-word names was applicable to the current situation, she would sputter, “Jan, Jean, Jud, Jane,” meaning of course Janice, Jeannie, Judy, or Janie.  Finally, giving up she would say, “Whoever you are you know who you are.”

And I hope that guy—the one driving the golf cart—somehow sees this and knows how grateful I was to be safely home on that dreadful morning.  I’m sure  the other couple traveling that night feel the same way.

All I can say is thank you, and I mean it from the bottom of my heart.

11 thoughts on “A Remembrance of 9/10/2001

  1. On the morning of 9/11 I was at the post office sending back packs to my grandchildren. The postmistress was on the phone and talked a long time. When she came to the window to help me she said an airplane had hit a building in NYC. I thought, like you, that it was a Piper Cub off course.

    I listened to the car radio on the way home. I did not turn on the TV. I just couldn’t bear to watch it and didn’t until days later. I still wonder about what happened and am sorry for so many lives lost. I think it was worse than Pearl Harbor.

    I know what you mean about O’Hare. I think it must be the biggest airport in the world. Every time I’ve had to make a connection there the gates were at opposite ends of the place. Am glad you had such a good driver.

  2. Yes, you were very fortunate. Angels come in many guises, as with your driver. I had to run through O’Hare once, but didn’t make my connection. Had to spend the night in the hotel there. They called it an “act of God” That delayed my flight’s departure from Houston. Got a free meal, but had to pay for the room. That was many years ago but still hope I never have to fly through there again.
    I’m no longer in Bisbee. I had a “mild” heart attack and was having difficulty maintaining proper blood pressure. Fell a couple of times. So now I’m living here in Idaho with my daughter and two grandchildren. Missing Bisbee so much!

  3. Doesn’t is seem sad that two hurricanes, a earthquake, (in mexico) and the West coast is burning up all happened around the ANNIVERSARY of 9/11.
    As we watched the second plane go into the tower our hearts stoped and we cried for the people, the Nation and the world. I. Sometimes wonder if mother nature is paying us back for destroying this world we live in. Oh to go back to the days when all we had to worry about was work and raising our kids to be WONDERFUL CITIZENS. Have a great week. .Jan..

  4. We were asleep up on our Arizona mountain. An Internet friend from Ohio called telling us that it appeared the attacks were coming west. That was the end of our sleeping that day.
    My husband was not well and required being air lifted to a hospital in Phoenix quite often. When we heard all air traffic was halted, I told Bill he could not get sick that day. We thought that was about as silly as we could get.

  5. I was teaching high school
    English or Latin Class-can’t remember but we had a big big screen tv in the room where an instructor helped us with Latin! We watched what was happening on that television much too clearly! My students were frightened horriblly and of course upset-wanting to be with me! What a day!
    My son was flying in and was almost the only person on his plane. I have since made many trips to NYC and always visit Ground Zero! So many heroes all over this nation!
    I must add here-my least fav airport is Chicago-visiting son and family in California and then Seattle-spent many nights in that airport for delayed planes-even in good weather!
    Now he and family in Florida again-just returned from being evacuated and all is wel! Traveling is not for the faint of heart-I admire you!

  6. I was working at Qantas then and two of my colleagues were on the first plane to crash into the towers. Ironically, one of them, Laura Morabito, had left a voice message on my phone thanking me for a favor – sending her lap top to LA where she was supposed to pick it up. Her laptop made it, but Laura didn’t…By the time I listened to the message that Tuesday morning, Laura was already dead. Driving home from work that evening, the road was deathly quiet. There was a stillness and a reverence in the air…I’ll never forget.

  7. Thank you for writing your books. I love them all, but there is a special place in my heart for JP Beaumont. I am on the couch reading his latest book. No better weekend companion.
    I was clueless most on that day. It wasn’t until late afternoon I saw the news. So upsetting that it was hard to sleep

  8. Our kids were in high and middle school in the Washington metro area and all day long kids were being pulled out of class to be told that their parents working at the Pentagon were OK….no casualties in the parent pool. It was a beautiful fall day and I spent it walking across the city to the Virginia bridges as public transport was not working and looked down the river to the thick black smoke coming out of the Pentagon. As it turned out a friend’s small grandchild was on the Pentagon plane, on the way to a school function. So so sad…..its a tough day every year.

    Chicago is indeed a challenging airport – as are my hometown ones! We love to fly in and out of the much smaller ones when our destination allows!


  9. Thank you for your new JP Beaumont book.
    I read it in 1 go.
    11 september 2001. “Europe”
    I had delivered morning papers in late night/early morning.
    After my sleep I had woken up in the afternoon and watched this horror live on TV , speaking with a relative..
    I don’t remember if I was on a phone or spoke thru headset on PC, when I suddenly saw that… there was only 1 Tower standing. Then later the other one went down too.

  10. I was working for American Airlines. I heard on the radio that an American Eagle plane had flown into the Twin Towers (initially nobody knew really what type of plane it was). Then the second plane hit the Towers. By then we were all in the computer lab crowded around a tiny 9″ TV. We watched in horror as first one and then the other tower went down. When the Pentagon and Pennsylvania planes went down, I told my boss now I was scared-these were not accidents. By then, AA had told us we were in lock down. Nobody could go in or out. They didn’t know yet if it was an attack on AA, the USA, or what. Once all flights were stopped, it was eerie being under the DFW flight path and not seeing or hearing any planes. A friend’s daughter, who is an AA flight attendant, was supposed to be on the Boston flight but had been out drinking the night before so gave her trip to a newbie who needed hours. The newbie perished.

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