I was sitting at the computer, entering dimensions from a blue print. The clerk hollered across the room that my daughter was on the phone. I picked up the receiver to hear an excited voice...
"A passenger jet just crashed into the World Trade Center!" What a strange and horrible accident. I shared the news with my co-workers. We all thought it was terrible. We talked a minute about how devastating it is outside of a city, but to crash in New York? There would certainly be a large death toll.
We went back to work, a bit more somber.
A few minutes later, "It's Jenny again." I picked up. "What? Another one? That's so bizarre!" What was happening? "They think what? You're kidding? Oh, my God!"
My co-workers huddled around the radio for news. We didn't have an internet connection in that room. Besides the clerk, I was the only woman. Most of the men were veterans. I can't say for sure, but I think it was harder for them.
Jenny called yet again. Washington, D.C.? Other planes missing? Airports were shut down.
We felt trapped. The world as we knew it was coming to an end, and we were there, stuck in this office space inside a factory, sealed off from the real world. I walked to the restroom by the break area. The monitors were tuned to an outside news station. Very strange. Workers were standing in front of them, their necks stretched back, staring silently at the screens. No one at the vending machines. No one talking. The noise from the machinery drowned out whatever was being said on the TV. All we had were the pictures. Chaos. Surreal. Not here. Overseas maybe, but not here!
I went to my husband's department and told them what had happened. My step-son was in the military. Returning to my area, I learned another plane had gone down.
Finally, in the afternoon, we were free. We went home and turned on the news. Every channel - those same images. The towers crashing down. New York city looking like a war zone.
I couldn't not look. I had to watch. I clung to every word, every theory. They were saying that the last plane may have been brought down by the passengers, to prevent the plane from reaching its planned target. My husband couldn't bear to hear it anymore. What did this mean for his son?
We had just bought seventeen acres in the county, a little over a half-hour away. He wanted to go there and cut wood. He needed the serene setting to make everything all right again. It would never be all right again.
I'll never forget the beautiful and strange sky that day. There were no jet trails. Nothing but blue sky and clouds. It was like being on another planet. We were glad to be at the farm. I took the camera, but discovered the batteries were dead. I decided to run into Xenia to KMart.
I was at the electronics counter paying for my batteries. Some guy was talking to the guy at the register. Word was that they were running out of gas everywhere and stations were raising their prices to $2/gallon! It had been $1.40 that morning. I thought about our near empty tank. I hope it's not true.
I left the store and drove through the parking lot to the street. I could see the long lines of cars waiting at the corner for their turn to get into the station. The world had gone crazy!
We spent a few hours in the fields, trying not to think about what was going on here and there. We then headed home, down the back roads. The gas gauge was low. We turned into Waynesville to find a station. Just like it had been earlier that day in Xenia, cars were lined up in both directions, waiting. We got in line and when it was our turn, paid the $2/gallon just before the pump ran dry, and then headed home.
We came into Springboro to find police cars at the main intersection of town, where two gas stations sat across from one another. There were orange cones and yellow police tape blocking and guiding the traffic through the lots. All the tranquility of the farm was wasted. The little release we had felt, melted quickly away. At home, I watched the news in one room, my husband did not watch in another room.
Although many heroes were born that day, sleep did not come easy. And we will never forget.