found myself thinking how futile life was. I had spent my adulthood
planning for my future. I had money in the bank, a career, a wife.
But I had denied myself certain luxuries so that I could have
a financially secure future. Now, after watching that man die,
I suddenly saw the futility of all that planning. I should have
lived more. What was the point?
were four to five of us standing at the window. I started to walk
away, but then I turned back and saw more people falling. This
time there was a man and a woman. The woman wore a beige mid-length
dress that fluttered in the wind. She was not calm. All her movements
screamed of a panic that was beyond panic. For one brief awful
moment, our eyes met. I felt some small part of what she was feeling,
and I couldn't bear it. I got away from the window. I wouldn't
go back. But she comes back to me from time to time. She is the
one who invades my nightmares.
that time, I figured out that the fire must be extremely hot,
and these people had known they were going to die. The thought
of a death on impact was better than being incinerated. I thought
some of them knew they were jumping out windows. Others may not
have known. There was a lot of smoke. Some may have thought they
were going through a door, not a window. But some probably knew
and made the choice.
colleague came running to tell us a plane had hit WTC I. I asked
him how he knew. He said he saw it on television. I asked him
where the television was. He said it was in his office. So I ran
down to his office, but a different story was up on the visual
screen of his computer. I decided not to wait for the story to
come back on. I wanted to leave the building.
went to my desk, trying to figure out if there was anything I
should bring with me. I grabbed my set of personalized pens and
added it to the stuff already in my briefcase. I had quit smoking
months ago, but nevertheless, there was a pack of cigarettes in
my briefcase. It was still semi-wrapped in cellophane and I had
had it for maybe ten months. It was the last pack I had purchased
when I quit smoking and I had only smoked one cigarette from it
–-- my last –-- nearly a year ago.
put my cell phone in my left back pocket and headed towards the
PA system was asking people in my building to go back to work.
I still headed for the elevators. By this time, the fire alarms
were going off. When I got to the elevator, it was already deactivated.
I decided to go back to my desk and call Catherine's secretary.
I knew I had those numbers on the mainframe. I was getting nervous.
placed my briefcase on the desktop behind my chair. I sat down
and called Catherine's work number. At the same time I was looking
for her coworkers' phone numbers. I was hoping to not have to
call her boss. Watching that first man jump and hit the ground
had really affected me. I wanted to hug my wife and then go home.
knew that the phone numbers for a couple of Catherine's colleagues
were right in front of me, but I couldn't see them. I had to listen
to Catherine's very long voicemail greeting before I could leave
a message. Finally I heard the beep. I started to leave a message
and as I did so, the building jolted. The force of it tossed me
around my cubicle. I remember thinking, *Finish the message or
Catherine will worry.* I finished it as quickly as I could. Later
that day, I would learn what I said. I said: *Catherine, this
is Chaaa-arrr-rll-lie. I want to come see you. I want to hold
you. And then I want to go home.* But at that moment in time,
I didn't know what I was saying. I was trying to process what
was happening around me. Once again I heard a *whoosh* surging
through the ventilation ducts. This one was much, much more pronounced
than the first one. It also sounded like large pieces of furniture
were being moved across the floor above me.
building lurched to one side. I thought it wasn't going to stop
going in the direction it was going. Then the building started
wobbling. This I knew was bad. The thought that I was about to
die ran through my head. I was going to die. The building was
going to fall over. I was convinced WTC I had fallen into WTC
II, my building. I was going to die with no one around me. No
one was going to witness my death. It all seemed so meaningless.
During all this, I was still on the phone. Throughout the entire
message I was leaving for Catherine, the building was moving.
It was like my desk was on a platform of Jell-O. Not good when
you are 68 floors up.