Memories of Working at the World Trade Center

Trying to understand 9/11, for me, is like trying to understand how the universe really operates. Even Einstein was not sure so he created a "theory" of relativity. Not even being close to having the brainpower of Einstein, I can only mark it down as the fact that there are many more misguided terrorists in the world than I had previously thought. Terrorism exists and I guess will for a long while. Like nearly everyone, a great sadness comes over me when I think of September 11, 2001. I try, now, and do a good job, of keeping it out of my mind for most the year. But whenever an anniversary is approaching us of that tragic day, it is impossible not to to try to ponder why it happened, question God for letting it happen, thinking of all the tremendous losses, and families who will have to live with those losses for the rest of their days. It cannot help but sadden any person with a conscience. In 1982, having left Mississippi as a young man to make my way in the world, I moved to New York City. Since I was not good in academia, but had some other talents, I decided to attempt to become a stand-up comic. I worked in clubs with (then) unknown names such as Jerry Seinfeld, Rosy O'Donnell, Julia Dreyfus, and a host of others. I would quickly leave work, take the subway "A" train to my apartment in the Grammercy district of Manhattan, and put on my "funny clothes". My day job was at a building in south Manhattan that no longer exists. It was on the 73rd floor, if I remember correctly, of the north tower of the World Trade Center. The subway took me almost right to the steps. Thinking back, the interesting irony of it was of the "feeling of safety we felt", that is those of us who worked there, when we finally got off the noisy, dirty, seedy streets of New York. I understand it has been cleaned up quite a bit since my time there, but it felt so nice to be in a clean safe building. After 9/11, it occurred to me how we can create illusions and fantasies so real to us, that they really seem like reality. We were (probably) not much safer then than those who felt safe entering the building on that fateful morning of September 11, 2001. Chances are, terrorists were planning attacks even back then, but simply did not have the means to do so. It was a luck of the draw. My co-workers and I were just lucky. I left that job in 1984 and moved to Washington, D. C. to take another. Keep in mind it was not long after I left, and before 9/11, that terrorists did find a way to try to take down the World Trade Center and almost did with a bomb in the basement. I don't think a day goes by that I don't think of the brave firefighters and police who were running in the opposite direction of everyone else, simply trying to save their lives. I think back to my early youth when I called police "pigs" and I wonder who that person was. I think back to the days of simply being neutral about firefighters. Who were they? They held a hose and sprayed water on fires. Never in a million years did I suspect I would I come to understand what heroes they really are. It is tragic that it took 9/11 to teach me that powerful lesson. Earlier this month, I was visiting a close friend in Boca Raton. I left my little "safe" abode in the mountains of Arkansas, drove to Little Rock, hopped on a Delta after going through the usual craziness of airport security and within seconds I was at 10,000 feet. I looked down and could see my small town. I guess I could see the streets where I walked my dog for years and felt safer than Fort Knox. I flew home yesterday after a ten day stay with a great friend. I felt safe and secure with her. Not just because she is my better half, but because she is sacred to me as a dear human being. The flight back was a bit bumpy but nothing to get upset about. I landed about 7 in the evening, got my baggage, went to my car, a Saturn, the second "safest" car on the road today, and drove an hour home. Twice I was nearly run off the highway by swerving drivers. Both times my head was swirling. Where am I safe and with whom? Where in my formal education was I taught about what is safe today?Why does evil have to exist? Oh, the duct tape I put on my windows after 9/11 has long been down. I can now take a bottle of water on a plane, as can others. I have evolved from "survival mode" and have no more plans to stockpile canned goods and move to an underground house in Montana. All this thought of security and safety, I guess, hits me every July or August. Which brings us back to terrorism. Will it go away? Did we "find those folks who tore down those buildings", as a famous world leader once said in a coached sound-bite? Will our children and grandchildren have to bankrupt the nation yet again to find these terrorists and if we can't find them simply be in a war so we can flex our superpower muscle and show "what could happen if they try it again?" These are questions at which we can only "stab a guess". I am not sure even Einstein could figure it out. But I do know this. If someone in power doesn't do something, and fast, at the risk of being an alarmist, we are getting in more deep water, so deep it is starting to make Viet Nam look like a wading pool.