Tuesday was Bagel Day at the software development center. I favored Bagels & Baguettes near Stanton Park. There was a line when I got there, around 8:30 AM. The shop is near Senate office buildings and the Heritage Foundation, and the TV is tuned to CNN to keep news-obsessed customers occupied.
By the time I got my two dozen hot bagels, the damnedest thing was on the television. An airplane had crashed right into the middle of a World Trade Center tower in New York, and the building was on fire. It was September 11, 2001.
I went to the office break room and put out the bagels, cream cheese, and smoked salmon. I guess I was making coffee when the second plane hit the other tower. I figured people still had to eat.
The developers were plugged into the web, and learned as much – or as little — as anyone that morning. We knew a third plane hit the Pentagon and heard the false report that a fourth had hit the White House. There was a rumor that a plane had hit the Capitol, but we were two blocks away and would have heard that.
I scanned the radio, but the news stations were clueless. I heard some good eyewitness reporting from New York over Pacifica, which I hadn’t expected. I put it on the telephone intercom and went through the office, turning intercoms on for some, off for people who had already heard enough.
I called the boss, got the word to send folks home, and surfed up reports on school systems and Metro. The Red Line at Union Station was shut down until early afternoon. Phones at schools were busy; cell phone systems overloaded. I negotiated some car-pool rides for those suburban commuters game enough to try the roads, shut the center down, and walked home.
It was a quiet walk. There wasn’t a plane in the sky. All civilian aircraft were grounded. I kept the radio off and waited for the Wednesday paper.
Versions of this item were posted on September 11, 2008 and September 10, 2007.