I didn’t mention this in my previous post, but I spent a great deal of yesterday remembering the events of September 11, 2001. I wasn’t planning on writing a post about what happened that day but I figured Henry might ask me one day where I was on that day and what I was doing, I want to put down into words how I experienced 9/11 in case the details get muddier as I grow older.
It was a Tuesday morning and my friend Stephane and I were running late for our stats class. The class started at 9am and we got there at 9:10 and the class was packed. There was no seating available so Stephane and I decided to skip it entirely and go for breakfast at Broadway’s bar and grill near Carleton University. When we got there, the waitress asked if we wanted to sit by the televisions in the bar. Both Stephane and I were like “umm… no, why?” and she answered “didn’t you hear? The US is under attack!” We both simultaneously tilted our heads upwards towards the closest tv and saw the World Trade Center towers and the billowing smoke. I don’t even remember walking to our table and sitting down since we were so glued to the tv. We kept telling each other “this is insane! this is crazy!” over and over again. We saw images of people throwing themselves off the buildings out of desperation. I still get chills thinking about it. Right before 10am, the south tower came down and you could hear the panic in the newscasters’ voice. Both Stephane and I kind of stood up at the same time just unable to believe this was actually occurring and then 30 minutes later, the north tower came down. I can still remember the adrenaline I felt as well. Every inch of my body wanted to run but where? People in the restaurant were weeping and just shaking their heads in disbelief.
We sat and watched these images over and over again until we had to go back to school. I had 2 classes left in that day and didn’t feel like going to school however I was eager to find my friend Christian (who was from New York) to see if his family was ok. I ran into his ex-girlfriend in my next class and asked her if she knew if his family was ok. She had no idea what had happened so I explained to her and she told me that he had decided not to come back to Carleton this year and stay in New York. We were both worried for him (and a few of our other friends from our previous criminal law class were as well). I did manage to get a hold of him via email a few days later and heard that he was alright and had actually been golfing that morning when it happened. It was a huge relief to hear he was ok.
I ended up skipping my last evening class since I couldn’t think straight and headed home to my family who were all glued to the tv. I vividly remember talking with my dad in our stairwell about how none of this made sense and how I wanted to make sure this kind of thing couldn’t happen again. I was studying criminology at the time and wasn’t quite sure in which direction I wanted to go after graduating but what happened on that day somehow strengthened my resolve about what type of career I wanted. A few months later I got a call from the Canada Border Services Agency (then citizenship and immigration) asking me if I wanted to work for them for the summer and I said yes. The rest is pretty much history. I still work at CBSA and although I’ll often complain about my job and how much work needs to be done, I’m glad I was able to find permanent employment in a field I love and able to build my career around a promise I made to myself 10 years ago…