Thursday, September 9, 2010

Where were you on September 11, 2001?

My only visit to the World Trade Center was June 10, 2001. It was a Sunday, and I dropped a trailer at the Cirque De Soleil site at Liberty National Monument Park in Jersey City, NJ, that morning. Then I stayed over until Monday and picked up a loaded trailer for the Cirque going to Chicago.

It was a day off with a great site seeing opportunity, so I took a water taxi over to Manhattan. From there it was a short walk to the twin towers. I didn’t go inside or do a formal tour or anything, more like a tourist munching on an ice cream cone looking up at these magnificent buildings. I walked around the neighborhood, checked out a few shops, took a break at a Borders Bookstore, and headed back to my truck.

Next morning – June 11 – I took a picture of my truck with twin towers in the background, got my trailer and headed out.

Who could imagine what would happen three months almost to the hour later.

On Sept. 11, 2001, my wife Geri and I had picked up a new tank trailer in Montreal going to Signal Hill, CA. We were on our way first thing that morning, a beautiful day, a nice long ride with an empty tank. What could go wrong?

I was driving at the time, and Geri went back to the sleeper for something and flipped on the TV. She said, “Stop. You better get back here and see this.” I pulled into a service plaza, and we watched what the whole world was watching.

We were still nearly 500 miles from the border – which was shut down. We got into the last truck stop about 20 miles out, camped out for the night, and then got in line at 5 a.m. Fifteen hours later we cleared the border. It could have been worse. The police would keep us stopped for two or three; then we moved ahead a couple of miles.

A radio or TV station in Sarnia, Ontario, sent out chicken dinners and pizzas. We had our TV, and we were glued to that so our inconvenience was a mere bag of shells compared to so many people’s grief and misery.

When we rolled off the Blue Water Bridge, that ‘Welcome to the USA” sign meant quite a bit more to us. As Dan Rather said early on, “The world will never be the same.”