Do You Remember Where You Were On 9/11?

Snug in my bed in Arizona, three hours behind New York. Not quite time for me to get up and get ready for work. My phone rang. It was my sister.

by Deedra Abboud in Social Views
September 11, 2016 1 comment

On the anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, many people are sharing their stories about where they were and what they were doing that day as a remembrance. It’s not just Americans that are sharing their stories. Many people from other countries are sharing as well – the day life changed for many, as well as the world at large.

I was sleeping when the terrorist attacks happened. It was a Tuesday. Snug in my bed in Arizona, three hours behind New York. Not quite time for me to get up and get ready for work. My phone rang. It was my sister.

She said, “Deedee, are you awake? You need to turn on the t.v. right now.”

“What channel?” I asked.

“Any channel, “she replied.

Half asleep, I stumbled out of bed, into the living room, and turned on the t.v. I can’t even remember what station, whatever channel we had watched before going to bed.

I looked at the picture on the t.v. – the second plane had already hit… both towers had flames coming out of the windows.

From sleep, to utter confusion. What was going on? Was this real?

My sister was still on the line, but I don’t remember talking to her anymore. I don’t remember hanging up. I don’t remember waking my husband up to see what was on the television.

I barely remember deciding it was time to get ready for work. I don’t remember driving to work. I don’t remember parking and going to my cubical.

I know I did those things. I know I started working, billing and processing payments. I worked in accounting at a manufacturing company. There were only two people in my department, my boss and another co-worker. Neither were at their desk when I arrived at 8:30 am, Arizona time.

Around 9 a.m., my boss came to my cubical.

She said, “Deedra, we need you to stay in your cubical. If you need anything from outside our department, ask one of us to get it for you. Don’t go to the printer or bathroom without letting me know. One of us will go with you. We don’t know how people will react so we cannot guarantee your safety until we figure that out.”

Her declaration came as a shock… then confusion…. Until that moment, it had not occurred to me that… well, nothing had occured to me.

A terrorist attack had happened on the soil of my country, in a city I had visited several times. People had died and were still dying.

The attack was personal to me because it happened to my country.

Now, for the first time, I realized others saw this as more personal to me – they saw me as a possible co-conspirator, if not a direct perpetrator.

Not having yet wrapped my head around the terrorist attack itself, this revelation was a heavy burden. I had no idea what to feel about it, much less what to do about it.

I was mostly numb for the rest of the day. I just focused on my computer, the monotonous tasks of debits and credits. I don’t remember thinking anything.

Nor do I remember driving home or having dinner or talking to my husband. It’s all a blur.

September 12, 2001, I remember much more clearly.

I drove to work listening to my normal music channel – except it wasn’t my normal music channel. All channels were now talk radio, no music. People were calling in, and DJs were the new talk radio hosts. All kinds of callers, all kinds of conversations. People calling for war, people calling for peace. People were talking about deporting all Muslims and immigrants and anyone who wasn’t a “real American.” I remember a Native American responding not too politely to that last one.

I could feel the anger, the frustration, the fear, the hatred practically oozing from my car speakers.

Right then and there it occurred to me: the most unsafe place I could possibly be was on the road.

If my boss was concerned that my co-workers might attack me – people that I had worked with for two years, had lunch with regularly, bowled with at company team-building functions, celebrating with at office Christmas, Thanksgiving, and birthday parties – what might an out-of-control and angry stranger who saw me on the street be capable of?

When I got to work, my boss again told me to not leave my cubical. I told my boss I thought it would be better if I just took the week off since I was more worried about driving to and from work.

She agreed.

1 Comment
  1. Ghamdi says:

    9/11 impact still living due to continuous similar events by terrorist groups. I sufferred when I was there student in florida and this I was in UK-Oxford and I can see eyes of many oxonians who say you’re not welcome here, you’re someone we dont trust or feel safe with ..etc. What if I shave my beard and you remove your Hijab Deedra: do you think it will stop the impact of 9/11? In short, I believe: No.

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