Bagel Day

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, 2009, September 11, 2008 and September 10, 2007.

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2 Responses to “Bagel Day”

  1. Greg Says:

    Hi Mike – thanks for the pop past.

    From so far away most of us here in South Africa could only watch with pure horror at the scenes on our television screens. To be there at the time must have been almost mind-numbingly surreal.

    I wonder if you have made a ‘tradition’ (not the right word for it I know) of picking up bagels for the office each September 11 since?

  2. Mike Licht Says:

    Greg wrote: From so far away most of us here in South Africa could only watch with pure horror at the scenes on our television screens.

    That was also our experience in Washington. Except for the ocassional smell of smoke from the Pentagon and the lack motor traffic and aircraft, all our information –much of it unsubstantiated rumor — came from the media. Even the broadcast and Web reports about subway station closings were wrong.

    To be there at the time must have been almost mind-numbingly surreal.

    Except for the sense of possible further danger, no more than anywhere else in America that day. The Pentagon, across the Potomac in Arlington, is somewhat isolated by the river and expressways. Though it turned out that we knew someone who perished there, the immediate stituation in dowtown New York was much more of a dislocating shock.

    Washington DC proper is a city of 500,000 with 1 million daily commuters from the suburbs and millions of tourists. The incident made clear that no evacuation plan can possibly remove many of us from harm’s way in an emergency. For those of us “sheltering in place” in the city, there was a new sense of isolation and vulnerability.

    I wonder if you have made a ‘tradition’ (not the right word for it I know) of picking up bagels for the office each September 11 since?

    Actually, the Wednesday “Bagel Day” tradition long preceded 9/11. The company has gone out of business, and the building is an office for lobbyists.

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