9/11: My alarm clock was set to radio and the annoying happy DJ (purposely set because he was annoying enough each morning to make me want to get up out of bed and turn him off) was unusually somber, and then he said one of the towers had been hit. We turned on the Today show and watched for a while.
I work at a newspaper, and it’s always a rush when something big happens.
Several years back, a guy stabbed a city bus driver while going over one of the highest bridges in town, and the driver died and the bus crashed off the bridge and down onto the roof of an apartment building. I was there during the WTO riots in 1999. (It’s not every day when an email goes out to staff to “please return your gas masks . . .”)
On occasions like these, the activity in the newsroom looks like chaos, but it’s more like the chaos of an anthill — everybody’s got a specific job and if you watch closely, there’s an orchestrated plan at work. It’s really a beautiful, impressive thing. And it’s just like you see on tv or in the movies — people yelling, phones ringing, people running in and out, paper flying.
I went in to work early and even though it was mid-morning (ours is a morning paper and most people work afternoon/evening), the newsroom was full. And almost completely silent. People had heard the initial reports and just come in to work. We put out an Extra edition (as in “Extra! Extra! Read all about it!”) and it was the first time we had done so since the end of WWII. I remember watching the photos coming in over the wire — much of it too graphic for us to print: bodies falling, people jumping, etc. — and just being in shock that it had happened. Our News Editor was in New York when the towers were hit, and she couldn’t get a flight back, so she drove, and wrote reports for our website as she traveled. I’m pretty sure that was the first thing we did that looked like blogging.
The next few days are a blur for me, I remember being amazed at the outpouring of sympathy from around the world (“We are all Americans.”)
[Political sidenote: That’s one of the things that angers me most about the Bush administration — how that spirit of support and unity, unprecedented in my memory, was squandered. But that’s a topic worthy of a whole bunch of other blog posts. Just this: How many of those nations would say that today?]
It really took me a few years before I would get out of bed without turning on the TV first to see if something big was happening. Tivo made it easy to record the first hour of the Today show so that when I woke up I could at least play the first minute rather than flipping around to make sure there wasn’t something on the news channels that I was missing. I still do it to some extent, but it’s more habit now than paranoia.