I slept during the event; I
work nights and I live in Brooklyn Heights with windows open. A short cab
ride from the World Trade Center, 2 stops on the A train. But, I live in
When I got out of bed at 2:30pm I noticed my light blinking on my call
answering device (I work nights and I unplug my phone when I go to bed). I
ignored it. Most calls came up "unavailable" and were usually
hang-ups or salespeople trying to sell me a credit card that would finally
bury me in debt.
I flicked on the TV to channel 11 to watch Batman and Beyond. (Did I
mention that I'm forty?) I couldn't get the station in. I thought that I
unplugged my rabbit eared antenna to plug in my VCR, but I haven't rented
a film in weeks. I scanned the dial and finally got in New York Channel
Two. Colon Powell was giving a press conference. He was talking about
terrorist attacks, there was a crawl across the bottom of the screen and
through the snow and static I read: "World Trade Center
My TV signal came from Tower One, the first of the towers to be hit and
I went back to the Caller ID Box and there were several calls from my
family and I knew that someone died. Usually, these calls mean an Uncle or
Both my sisters called, my mom and my brother's girlfriend. All instructed
me to phone someone in the family immediately. The women were watching out
for me. They know that I keep strange hours and that I freelance for
several companies. A former employer of mine, Morgan Stanley, had 5 floors
in one of the towers.
I made a few calls, and was told of the great difficulty in reaching me (I
guess our enemy knew that the WTC was a communicating center). Family
members were relieved, they knew I worked nights, and they also knew that
I had a pile of bills and was looking for side work.
In a city this large, what other cartoon-watching 40 year old slobs were
out there at the trade center bright and early looking to pay off bills,
mortgages, kid's dental bills, alimony. For me it was me, myself and I. I
have been single my whole life and had no girlfriend at the time.
This didn't make me feel better.
Back to the tube: I watched the jets crash and marveled at how clever
those rotten pricks were. If those evil bastards put those smarts--AND
BALLS--to good use, they would have held the top 20 floors of both towers
and had a small army of office workers (and 40 year old slobs) kissing
their collective asses for a raise. They would have had easy commutes to
Greenwich, the Hamptons, or Westchester. Work at home: teleconferencing at
11:00 am and the golf course at noon. Home for cocktails with Bill and
Hilary at 5:00 and do whatever they wanted the next day, week, year, they
would have held stocks and gotten drunk off the interest.
I turned the set off and went to a deli for a coffee. Heading west toward
the Brooklyn Heights Prominade, a stream of sullen people--all
colors--headed in the opposite direction. They had an eyeful and I guess I
needed an eyeful, too. I left the camera at home on purpose. Jogging past
a cobble-stone path, I got to the concrete of the promenade. I pulled up
onto a bench, ripped the opening on my plastic coffee cup lid and looked
at lower Manhattan. Two columns of smoke billowed from where the towers
An old, and not particularly good, joke was that the World Trade Towers
were the boxes that contained the Empire State and Chrysler Buildings. No,
the Towers weren't as pretty as the Chrysler or Empire, but so what? How'd
you feel if someone killed your plain sister? The towers filled my sky at
the southern end of Manhattan. It was lit in the early morning and late at
night; a living monument to ambition and hard work. Yes, capitalism, but
is that the point?
Dave W. Brooklyn Heights, NY