Nine-eleven hit me in Alabama. I was just about to get on a plane.
I was on a visit to my elderly parents. It was their fiftieth wedding anniversary. I had been their driver to and from the big celebration. We had traveled from the Alabama gulf coast to Gatlinburg, Tennessee, where they had honeymooned in 1951. Now, fifty years later, it had been a great party, but elderly people get tired. We were back at my parent’s home in south Alabama. I was ready to be home, too. I was getting my pack ready. I was about to leave for the Pensacola airport, to fly home to Colorado.
“Come look at this thing on TV,” Papa said, “You might want to know about it.
I don’t want to look at TV, I thought, I’m getting ready to go. What do some burning buildings in New York City have to do with me? Aren’t there always buildings burning in New York City?
Well, of course it did have to do with me. I unpacked my pack. I called my job, and told them I would be delayed. Fortunately, I had brought my laptop, and had work I could do remotely.
Months before, when I had bought my plane ticket, I had considered whether to take the earlier flight. If I had, I would have been in the air!
So. I called the airline. I re-made my reservation, to fly the next day instead.
Of course, planes were not flying the next day either. The day after that, I called the airline again. Waited on hold, a long time. Re-made the reservation. This went on day after day. The times waiting on hold got longer and longer. After three days, the airlines stopped answering their phones entirely.
I looked at every other way to get home. No seats available on buses or trains. Drive? Rental vehicles were all spoken for. Except, maybe a 23-foot U-haul truck. Finally, it became evident nobody knew what was going on.
This went on day after day. I got a lot of work caught up, on my laptop!
Finally, when planes started flying again, I expected the airlines would be swamped, like after weather delays. Instead, the airports were empty. I checked in through the newly assembled high-security procedures. Onboard, I felt like I had the attentions of my own private flight attendant. As I had of my own private security guard!