In May of 2001, I was laid-off. I had worked for a dot.com and, when the bubble burst, our office in Lexington, KY slowly began to lay off employees. By the time there was only two of us left, I was working at home. I got the call that May and, because I got a decent severance package, I took some time off before I began the job search. By late August, I had already become concerned that there just wasn't much out there.
Then, on September 11th, it got much worse. I had tried to make looking for a job like a full-time job. I would get up early, work at it for eight hours, and then quit. On that day, I had allowed myself to sleep in a little. I got up and turned on the TV to the Today show (it may have been MSNBC - it was definitely an NBC network). There was a live shot of the North Tower already on fire. The talking heads were speculating about what had happened. Maybe a small plane off course. Then, I saw the second plane hit the South Tower. It was horrifying. I remember I was standing up; I just stood there for several minutes with my hand over my mouth. I was in total shock.
I lived alone in a small apartment in south Lexington. So, my first thought was to call my mother. I remember asking her, "What the heck is going on?" and she said, "We're under attack!" We spoke for just a few more minutes. I wanted to get online and see what was being reported. I spoke with several friends online. All seemed to be in shock like me. Of course, we Americans had never experienced anything like this since Pearl Harbor, but unlike Pearl Harbor we were seeing live as it happened.
I remember some news reports stating as many as 20,000 people could be in the towers and surrounding buildings. When it was reported the Pentagon had been hit, it really became difficult not to panic. It was around that time, I believe, that ABC reported that plan was missing that had been "over Lexington, Kentucky." Needless to say, it was shocking. My mind told me that there were no targets in Lexington, but you begin to think, "Fort Knox? Heading to D.C.?"
After the plane went down in Pennsylvania and it was reported that no other planes were in the air, there was a slight sense of relief, but there was no end to the shock and grief, especially after the Twin Towers fell. I think I watched TV for 24 hours straight, flipping from channel to channel to take it all in.
Thank goodness for the Internet. Although I was home alone, I was able to reach out to friends and family. It was a comfort.
The job market bottomed out and I really struggled to find a job. In February of 2002, I was hired as a contractor as a major insurer in Louisville, KY. I'm still there today. Some things never change, though - I still live alone. But, I know that I am well connected if I ever have a need to talk with anyone, especially after the advent of Facebook, Twitter and social media in general.
Today is the 14th anniversary of the attack on 9/11. I often think of that day - the day everything changed. Although I was home alone, I wasn't truly alone.
As America confronts these tragic circumstances, it is imperative that the situation is not compounded by expressions of religious or ethnic intolerance. The greatness of our nation rests on the exceptional diversity of religions, nationalities, and ethnic backgrounds which characterize its people.
Statement of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights