Thursday, September 11, 2008

Where were you?

On September 8, 2001, I was in my very good friend Maggie's wedding in Spokane. At the time, I was actually living in Phoenix, AZ and had been working as a flight attendant for Southwest Airlines for 2 years. I took vacation time in early September to be in the wedding and spend some much needed time with my family and friends in the Tri-Cities. On the 9th, I drove back to my dad's house in Richland and on the 10th drove to Walla Walla to visit my grandma and grandpa for the day. I was suppose to fly to Seattle on a 6am flight from Pasco to Seattle on the morning of the 11th and then jump on a Southwest flight home to Phoenix to work a trip starting on the 13th (I wanted at least one day off in my apartment before flying out for 3 days). The night of the 10th, I was so exhausted from the day trip to Walla Walla and the previous week's activities and decided to stay at my dad's one more day and go back to Phoenix on the 12th... it turned out to be one of the best decisions ever.

I woke to the phone ringing at my dad's around 6:30am and heard muffled voices through the door and my stepmom saying something about a hijacked plane to my dad. I was so out of it, that I fell back into a deep sleep and had a dream that a plane I was actually working on was going down... I woke up startled when the phone rang again sometime around 7:45 or so and it was my stepmom saying I needed to get up and go turn on the television. I had just missed the second tower collapse... and I don't think I moved from the middle of the living room floor for the rest of the morning. I was completely glued to the television, like most of the nation. And my cell phone was ringing non-stop- friends and family asking where I was, if I was flying, and generally making sure I was OK. I remember trying to call my mom's cell phone a few times to get a hold of her and let her know to turn on the news, but her cell phone was turned off. She and my stepdad, Jim, had just moved to Hawaii a month earlier and it was only 4:45am for them when I turned on the news, so I was pretty sure they had no idea what was happening... they finally heard it on the radio when the alarm when off later in the morning. I figured out later, that I would have made the Horizon flight from Pasco to Seattle that morning and then gotten stuck in Seattle or somewhere else, because planes were grounded right about when my flight to Phoenix was scheduled to leave...

That morning, the FAA grounded ALL planes- no matter where they were, they were order to land at the closest airports. Southwest planes landed all over the country and many in cities that we don't even usually fly to. Flight attendants and pilots were sent to hotels and told to stay put until they heard more. Some chose to hang out together with other stranded pilots or flight attendants, some chose to hang out in their rooms alone watching the news- I often wonder which I would have done. They were almost all away from their own families and friends during the biggest crisis our country has seen in years and years, staying in hotels in random cities throughout the country. I was so thankful to be around family and friends over the next couple of days, rather than being stranded somewhere being so confused and scared and shocked.

My original trip I was suppose to work on the 13th was partially cancelled and changed, but I was still stuck in the Tri-Cities unable to catch a stand-by flight out of Pasco. Scheduling was extremely kind and flexible over those first few days that flights were resumed, knowing that many people were still stuck places or still too rattled to fly. I finally caught a (car) ride to Seattle on Sunday morning, the 16th, and got on a plane to Phoenix. I was scheduled to work that evening, so I was given a loaner uniform and manual so I could work my flights. The next few weeks and months flying were very different... and actually have never gone back to the way they were before that fateful day. Something that is very apparent when you step foot into an airport or onto an airplane. Our job and training as flight attendants (and pilots) changed so much, life in general changed so much.

This morning is the first 9/11 that I wasn't watching some sort of news program because I was busy getting the kids and I packed to drive back to Gresham from my mom's in Kennewick. It felt a little strange, like I wasn't "remembering" because I wasn't watching something honoring the day. But really, I will never forget today and what happened 7 years ago, no matter what.

Where were you on September 11, 2001?


The Donald said...

I went into a little detail on my blog about that day, so I will save my comment for something other than that.

I forgot that you were already a flight attendant back in 2001. I seem to remember running into you somewhere, or maybe it was via email when you said that you were about to start that job.

Thank you for sharing how it affected you. It hit me hard, but being a worker for the airline industry probably put it a little closer to home.

We can never forget that day. Lisa and I were talking about how weird it is that our kids will hear about it in school, and won't be able to relate to it at all, when to us it doesnt' seem like it was 7 years ago.

Kathleen said...

I was at work, working nights as a CNA. I remember seeing it in pt's rooms. I called and woke my parents up at 6:45 am. Told them. I was just getting over mono, so I remember spending lots of time in my room watching tv cuz I had no energy to do anything and that was all that was on tv.
You are still working as a flight attendant? I had an interview with Delta once, before 9/11. I almost chose to take that career path for a while, but then I decided not to go. Weird, how life takes us on paths some we choose and some we don't.

Maggie said...

I think you know where I was but I was on a cruise ship in the middle of the ocean on the coast of Mexico!

Lisa said... between classes wondering what everyone was staring at on TV in the tiny break room at our nursing school. Class was canceled, went home and watched some on TV and went to sleep hoping I would wake up and it all be a dream.