Over and Over Again: September 12, 2001 — Morning/Evening

Reblogging 9/11

Union Square, Memorial, Week of September 11, 2001. Copyright, me.

For background on what this post is all about, please read the first post in this series so it all makes sense.

tl;dr this is a reposting of a series of entries on my blog from the week of September 11, 2001 while I was living in New York City. Except for some name changes, no edits have been made.


: Journal Entry — Wednesday Afternoon/Evening, September 12, 2001 ::

More news. More phone calls. More e-mail. More everything, please.

At some point, the evening passes into night. It is 10:30. James has gone to a BBQ joint in midtown where people eat large portions of animals that have very thick and smoky sauces on them (the animals, not the people). Jennifer and I are in the apartment. I hear a voice in the hall. It is a yelling voice. I hear the freight elevator close. Did you hear something, I ask Jennifer. She might have heard something. I look out in the hall. Nobody is there. My stomach drops. What was that yelling? Was it coming from the freight elevator?

I move out to the terrace and see people crowded onto street corners. There are police cars parked in the middle of Park Avenue. Sirens. Shit. Smoke? No. No smoke. Jennifer and I agree that something is going on. I pick up the phone to call the front desk but forget the number. I am calm, but I am nervous. Look up the number — how could I forget that number? The doorman picks up when I call and I ask him if everything is okay. “Get out. Get out now.”

I say my okaythanksbye, hang up and yell to Jennifer that we have to leave now. When I yell to Jennifer, my voice hits the walls, sticks and slides down rather than bouncing with an echo like it should. Stress has a strange effect on my voice.

We put on shoes and move into the hallway. We press buttons on the regular elevator and the freight elevator. The freight elevator comes first. One of the doormen, Wil, is inside. “Get in,” he says.

We get in and see the call board light up one buzz at a time until 1/3 of the floors in our building are requesting a lift. We ask Wil what’s going on. “Bomb threat at the Empire State Building.” By the time we reach the lobby the elevator is packed. We move outside and police officers guide us across the street and tell us to keep walking. Some people are in pajamas. I do not see anybody crying. Some people are vacant. Many look inconvenienced.

While crossing the street, my phone rings. It is someone from work. He asks me if I have heard from the client. I say I am being evacuated from my apartment building. I will call him tomorrow and I haven’t heard from the client today. Just to make sure, I check my voicemail and have one message. It is Kevin’s former secretary. She wants to make sure Kevin is okay. I call her at home and wake her up, forgetting that it is almost 11 p.m. I let her know that Kevin is fine.

We call James to let him know what happened. He was on the way home and meets us at 36th and Lex. Jennifer, James and I walk uptown. It makes as much sense as walking downtown.

I realize that the hat I put on is from a gaming website and has a peace symbol set in cross-hairs on the front. This is not an appropriate hat. We duck into a deli where I lose the hat and buy Advil and water. Hatless and Adviled, I feel better. We call our families to preempt any stories CNNMSNBCABCFOXCBS may be broadcasting. I use Jame’s phone. I regret switching back to Sprint PCS again. James runs into a high school friend. I run into a law school friend. Jennifer does not run into any friends and feels left out of the street reunions. We do not know if we can return to the apartment yet.

It turns out to be a false alarm. We make our way back. Friends have left voicemails to offer a place to stay for the night. This may not be a bad idea. Back in the apartment, it feels safer. Trip three of three out of the apartment for Wednesday is over.

I decide to stay home for the night. Before going to bed I pack an emergency bag in case we are evacuated again. I put my camera in the bag but remove it right away. I put it back in. This makes me feel guilty.

The office is open tomorrow.



I occasionally write things here on Medium. Follow me on Twitter. You are also welcome to read my Ask a Lawyer column in Deadspin here. You can listen to my sometimes dark but generally funny and useful — and currently on hiatus — Ask a Lawyer podcast, Unwonk, here. And you can always see what I’ve been up to by visiting danralls.com.