I was driving on Route 3 N on my way to Merrimack, New Hampshire where I worked as a contract engineer. It was a Tuesday morning. During the ride up I heard over the radio that a plane had struck one of the twin towers in New York. Before I arrived I got a page from my boss, Scott Aziz, about the incident and he said it was serious.As soon as I arrived at work I noticed that folks weren’t really focused on work. I immediately walked into a conference room that had a TV and found people gathered around a live camera shot of one of the towers burning. The images on the TV showed how big the fire was.
It was instantly clear that whatever hit that building was not a small plane.
I was relatively new to Fidelity having only worked there about a year. There were many who had worked there for years and who knew many of the just under 1,000 people working at 1 World Financial place next to WTC. A lot of my coworkers also knew people who worked for other firms in WTC twin towers.
We were transfixed to the TV as the building burned, trying to guess what offices were destroyed (“that could be Bear Sterns”, etc.) when suddenly a large plane smashed into the second tower causing that massive fireball. People around me screamed things like “Oh my God!” or “This is no accident, we’re under attack!” Personally, I’ll never forget the involuntary gasps coming from people in the room. I had never heard people gasp in horror like that…it was chilling. Men in ties seethed and walked out of the conference room with tears in their eyes, their faces red from blood boiling with anger just under their skin. Women cried openly.
Before the collapse we were distraught over how many hundreds of people we knew or knew of that were probably killed. I tried to go back to work but found myself sitting in the conference room again…then the towers collapsed.
I was furious.
I remember walking back to my desk with tightly clenched fists and wanting to punch people until my knuckles bled and my bones broke. At the time, I didn’t know who to punch…but I was ready to roll.
I personally lost no family member or friend that day. I don’t consider myself terribly affected by the event other than being an American and being closed to a number of people who were directly affected. I was “lucky” but I had people close to me that lost coworkers or friends or even family. One very close friend, Richie Kane, had a ticket on flight 11 but for some reason cancelled it. Amazing.
It was a horrible, terrible day.
Somethings you don’t forget…you just learn to live with it.