It was already an unusual day for me. It was my second day on a new job, and I was just getting used to the new routine. I lived in Lakewood, Washington just south of Tacoma at the time, and was commuting to Redmond for a new job as a helpdesk technician. The drive was new enough to not have become the mind-numbing drudgery it would become in the coming months, and I was still trying to find a good morning show on the radio for the trip.
When I turned the car on, the radio came on to the Howard Stern show. I nearly broke my finger hitting the "Seek" button. I detest that guy and all that he stands for. The very next station I landed on was a news report. The word "explosion" caught my attention. I began listening more closely.
Living on the West coast, most of the attack had already occurred. The initial reports were still very unsure of what had actually happened, in fact I recall a good deal of debate as to whether it was an accident or not. The initial report on the Pentagon did not even mention a plane, it simply reported an explosion and smoke.
When I learned that the second tower had been hit, I knew in my heart that this could not have been an accident. I called my wife and told her to turn on the television. Then I continued to drive.
That drive was probably the longest of all the commutes I made between Lakewood and Redmond in the entire time I worked there. When I got to work, everyone was going about their jobs somberly and quietly. Over and over we watched the footage of the second plane striking the tower, the people covered with white dust running down the street, the unreal sight of bodies falling through the air after leaping from the burning building.
Since that day, a lot of history has passed. We have witnessed many historical events, which will be studied by school children for many generations. Scholars will debate what really happened that day, pundits will twist it to suit their agenda, and politicians will continue to milk it for whatever gain they can.
But I will remember. The shock, the uncertainty, the fear.
More than that, I will remember sitting in my car, driving on one of the most congested freeways in the nation, and thinking that for once, there were no strangers in those other cars. I knew what they were probably thinking, I knew what was probably playing on their radios.
In all that chaos, we were united. And for a few weeks, we had a common cause.
Whatever else came out of that horrible day, at least there was that.
© 2010 Tyler Willson. All rights reserved