Sunday, September 11, 2011
The immensity of it hasn’t hit me yet. I think my system has set up a defense.
Phones don’t work. I walked to LR’s and left a note saying I’m OK and in Brooklyn.
“My Brooklyn bomb shelter”
Biggest concern is I can’t reach M&D to reassure them. I’m at Phoebe’s. Iced tea, although I’ve absolutely no need for a stimulant.
I was the opening manager today. Sometime after 8:00 I was on the Upper Plaza looking around for Marisa, I guess, to ask her to cover Mimi during a 15 minute break. There was a big boom that we all heard and felt. We saw a lot of paper raining down outside, and other debris. People were scared and headed for the doors. I couldn’t tell if it was safer inside or out w/ all the debris coming down, and we didn’t know what happened. Herman said a jet had smashed into one of the buildings. People were rushing down the escalators. I got on the paging system and told everyone to calmly leave the building, or something stupid. I think I actually said we didn’t know what happened yet. A woman was trying to get one of the Lower Plaza doors unlocked - one that we keep locked because the lock is rusty and hard to use. I got it open. There were still customers standing in the check-out line and I told them to leave. It took a little urging. Kaz said, Just customers? -- and I said You all can leave. Employees were leaving. I guess I paged the store that we were evacuating, probably after someone in an emergency type uniform told us to get out. I was mostly concerned w/ safety - was it safer inside or outside? Eugene said he locked the Upper Plaza doors and Concourse. I went through the Mezzanine and looked to see everyone was gone, calling out that we were evacuating. I looked in both bathrooms under stalls and called out. Eugene paged me just before I got to the bathrooms and I told him what I was doing. When I came downstairs he said he was going up to get his bag. Some others - Jody, Mimi - I don’t know who else - were also going back - This is when the guy told us we had to evacuate. Jody was already at the top of the “down escalator” which was turned off. I yelled get the fuck out of the store! They said they had to get their stuff and I yelled Get the fuck out! Maybe I got on the pager and I yelled, Everyone get the fuck out of the store. Your precious possessions will still be here when you come back. I’m pretty sure I was the last one out. I crossed the street and stood near the Post Office, not sure what to do, where to go. I walked uptown. The sidewalks were full of people moving quickly or standing watching. Confusion. I decided I would get at least as far as Canal Street before I tried to call anyone. At one point there was panic and Church Street was full of people running and screaming. I got against a building. I don’t know if anyone knew what the panic was about, but soon after there was another explosion. I was as concerned about being trampled in a stampede as I was of any further explosions. I saw the tower that had been hit first when I’d got outside, It looked like a shot in a disaster movie. I don't know when I saw the other tower. I crossed Canal and waited for a woman on a pay phone. A man was talking to a street vendor. The vendor was talking about a plane hitting the building. I asked him if he’d seen it and he said, No, someone else saw it. While I waited for the phone another woman got behind me and said she saw the second plane hit the building. She was driving on the Westside H’way and saw it. I couldn’t get through to M&D on the phone. I tried twice and got a message saying the number couldn’t be reached. Someone said no one can get through. I tried a few more pay phones as I walked toward the W’burg bridge. People were looking at each other, making eye contact, not necessarily saying anything. I tried to call Melissa and got an answering machine. I was leaving a message that we’d evacuated but the machine beeped before I finished. Later I called Ed and left a message on his machine that my workplace had blown up, I was OK, and walking home. A man on the Lower East Side was handing out flyers for a local politician “Keep F_____ in office,” he said as he tried to hand me one. I just laughed and then he laughed also at the absurdity. There were a lot of people on the bridge. Now I could see that only one tower was standing. I did not stop to watch. People were taking pictures, making video tapes,trying to get through on cell phones. I was frightened and felt vulnerable on the bridge. I kept thinking, The bridge is a target, the bridge is a target. Any bridge or tunnel could be a target in an attack. Were we under attack? The third plane [?] hit just before I got to the bridge. People were running to see. I was like Lot - don’t look back, get out, get away. I walked but I walked fast, imagining terrorists machine gunning us, or a plane crashing into the bridge, or a train exploding. The trains were still running but I didn’t want o get on any Mass Transit. I briefly considered staying in Manhattan and waiting it out, but I thought - no, I felt I wanted to get home. Also, maybe I could call long distance from Brooklyn.
I saw Greg on the bridge, headed for Manhattan. His brother worked down there also - for the mayor -- and he said he talked to him 10 minutes ago and his brother was at the foot of the building before it went down.
I was very relieved to get off the bridge and hurried away from the Jewish neighborhood. I went up Bedford to Metropolitan and took it all the way to Graham. All the way, people were talking, watching the smoke, the spectacle. I was on Metropolitan when I looked and couldn’t see either tower and I didn’t know why. Weren’t they normally visible from here? Are they both gone? I got home and went to the phone. 2 messages but I picked it up to call - no dial tone, silence. I played the messages. I think the first was 8:40 - Dad said they knew I was safe because the Lord was blessing me today. The second was Leslie hoping I was safe and trying to give me her cell phone number but she couldn’t remember it. After some searching she found it and said she hoped I was O.K. I turned on the TV. There was sound on channel 2 but no picture on it or most stations except the Spanish and Korean and some wacky religious station. I couldn’t watch. I went outside to sit in the backyard but I was too wound up. I went upstairs, calling for Sonny and knocked on his door. No answer. I had my notebook with me. My door was locked and I reached for my key but decided to try Paul & Judy’s. Rang their doorbell and knocked the knocker. No answer. I walked to Phoebe’s, walked in and shrugged and then walked to Leslie’s and left her the note. I walked back to Phoebe’s wanting to be around people. A radio was on, talk about the attack, people calling in asking questions. I still don’t know what’s going on. Is it true the Pentagon was attacked? Several planes hijacked 4 or 5. One crashed in Pittsburgh, maybe shot down to prevent a suicide crash. A caller asks about a plane and I guess someone turned off the radio - it went silent - A Love Supreme came on and played most of the time I wrote this.
There are more details I might write down later. I’m still dazed and hyper, can’t think ahead. This could be a real war, or could become one, and we have an idiot in the White House.