Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Unlike any other day

It was a typical Tuesday morning. I pulled into the parking lot about 20 minutes before the pharmacy opened. Finished listening to the song on the radio and shut off the car. Unlocked the doors to the building and walked in. I stopped and chatted with a couple of the cashiers at the front of the store before unlocking the pharmacy.

Since I had worked the previous day, I knew that there were no outstanding issues in the pharmacy except for a few calls for refills. I logged on to the computer and pulled up my emails. Nothing important. While waiting for the dispensing system to boot, I turned on the radio. All we could receive was the local AM station, but it was better than the store muzak and it broadcast my favorite MLB team's games. Sure the daytime programming was dry, but we would make fun of it if we were really bored. I remember one time we were filling a prescription for a patient whose first name was Candida just as the Tony Orlando and Dawn song of the same name started playing on the radio. And yes, it was a Diflucan prescription.

The nine o'clock news came across. Nothing that seemed real interesting. Commercial break, then the local news was next. Just as the local news was finishing, ABC News broke in with a report that the upper levels of the World Trade Center were on fire. The radio stayed live with the report. A little bit later the report was that a plane had flown into the building. I could see that happening. I remember reading about a bomber flying into the Empire State Building during World War II. It was clear skies when I came to work, but who knows what the weather conditions are in New York City.

A little bit later the second tower was hit. You knew that it was a deliberate act. You could hear the panic in the radio announcers' voices. Maybe not an all-out panic, but there was an uneasiness that was coming thru. Radio reports that flights are now being diverted and others are being grounded.

The Pentagon is hit by American Airlines 77. Now whoever is doing this is attacking our military command and control. It makes sense from a tactical standpoint. I call my wife to see what the television news channels are reporting.

The South Tower of the World Trade Center falls. The radio is filled with numbers....50,000 people work in the WTC. How many are now dead? The radio replays the sound of the building crashing.

Then the North Tower collapses. Reports on the radio talk of people leaving New York City on foot. I can only imagine the terror that these people are going through.

A little while later there is a report that United 93 goes down near Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh is only a couple hours drive away from where I live. Whatever is going on is now getting close to home.

All this time the pharmacy has been hauntingly quiet. A few people have trickled in, but they are oblivious to what is happening. For some, the first they hear of the day's events comes from our AM radio.

As the afternoon progresses, business picks up and people start filling us in on what has happened. They have seen the towers collapse and describe it to us. They also bring us news of what is happening at the gas stations. We hear reports of 3, 4, even 5 dollars per gallon. Lines six blocks long at local gas stations.

The business in the pharmacy is almost non-existent after 6:00 PM. Everybody is home, glued to the television. I finally close up at 9:00 PM and start the drive home. When I pass the first gas station in my town, I see that the price is up about 40 cents from the morning. There is a line that backs up onto the main road. The next station is still at the normal price. All the pumps are full, but I'm able to get in and out fairly quick.

I arrive home at about 9:30 PM. My first chance to actually see video of the day's events. The radio told me what was going on, but I didn't really grasp the enormity of what had happened until I saw the towers collapse for myself. Then the images of the Pentagon. And the field where Flight 93 went down.

It wasn't your typical Tuesday.

2 comments:

Katie said...

I was starting to get the feeling that everyone had forgotten...

Thank you for the poignant reminder.

Anonymous said...

That morning my husband took me to work and dropped our our third-grader off at school. As we were driving along the river road, a giant woodchuck (which I had never seen before) stood up on its hindlegs near the city bus stop. As I turned to point out this animal excitedly to my child, a small vehicle behind us deliberately ran off the road and over the creature. I stopped mid-sentence in horror and covered up my child's eyes.

Later, that morning, when the new started filtering into the pharmacy dept. my stomach wouldn't stop churning.

I had 'protected' my son from the awfulness of human activity for an instant, but what of the next moment?