Never forget … that I’m an idiot

I’m not qualified or self-important enough to think I can explain the significance of today’s “anniversary.”  I can’t offer deep solace or draw lessons.  In fact I kind of hate hearing 9/11 re-hashed except maybe by first responders and people who were in the WTC, or the Pentagon, or NYC, or who lost someone then, because so many people seem to have hitched on, lamprey-like, to claim some personal aggrandizement in the guise of anger, concern, sorrow, etc.  9/11 has become such a political tool that I’d rather not hear about it at all. (potentially offensive image and discussion below the ‘more’ line)

A faith-based initaitve

I did nothing heroic on or after 9/11 and I’m not really proud of my response then. On 9/11/2001 I was on my way to teach a class at the Tuscarawas branch of Kent State University.  CNN was usually on a TV mounted in a hallway and I just happened to look at it while they were replaying a shot of the second plane hitting the WTC.  It must have been shortly before 9:30, as my class would be at 9:45 and they weren’t talking about the Pentagon yet.  I remember, very distinctly, hearing them say they weren’t sure what kind of aircraft it was (commercial or private), and that they weren’t sure how or why the planes crashed into the buildings, and that this was the second plane to do so.

My thoughts, as I walked toward the classroom, were: “Wow, what are the chances that two idiots would make the same mistake like that?”  I couldn’t really think of any explanation apart from it was pilot error and/or air traffic control error.  Not having any real understanding of the scale of the WTC buildings, despite having seen them from a distance many times, I thought the planes were small private jets.  One crash made me think, “Suicide” (like the dude who tried to fly a plane into the White House); the second crash made me think “systemic failure of some kind.”  The thought of terrorism didn’t even occur to me.

I went ahead and taught the class and went back to the adjunct office to learn classes were being cancelled because it was a terrorist attack.  Even then I thought, “How ridiculous. What are my students going to do, go find the terrorists?”  It was only as I began driving home, and listening to the radio, that the seriousness of it all hit home.  Actually I was mostly listening to Howard Stern, who — very commendably in my eyes — called for calm and peace (some of his listeners were already ready to lynch any Muslim or Arab they saw).  The fact that other targets were hit or intended, and that we didn’t really know how many planes were involved, emerged.  Shock turned to fear. My wife worked in a courthouse and I began to wonder how widespread the attacks would be…would they really target Ohio too?

So while 9/11 for me signifies the very tragic loss of life on that day, and the beginning of a long drive to mortgage freedom for security, and the roots of  two mostly mismanaged and misdirected wars, and the beginning of a very dark time politically, it is also a reminder of just completely idiotic I can be in the face of the unexpected.  I eventually came around.  But it made me ever so slightly sympathetic when I saw images of the president sitting dumbly with the goat book.

We spent the day calling relatives, watching the news, and cleaning the apartment, and the next day it was back to work as usual.  I did not talk about the terrorist attacks at all in class for the first week back. The terrorist attacks would eventually come up in class, but for that first week, I think my students kind of enjoyed having a little bubble where no one was talking about terrorism.  They got that 24/7 outside of class.

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Published in: on September 11, 2011 at 6:00 am  Comments (7)  
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7 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. In all kinds of grieving the “bubble” can be crucial. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Excellent post, Mr. M. As 9/11 becomes ‘iconic’ over time, it’s important to remember the personal impact of that day.

  3. Wow. I’m astounded. At what point do you realise that this “act of terrorism” is just that! An act of terrorism! These people came at us and onto OUR land, because we believed in freedom, and they don’t. Just how is this right? There doesn’t need to be a BUBBLE! The bubble distracts from real life! And in real life, people will kill you because of what you believe! Just saying.

    • I am pretty sure they did not ‘hate us because of our freedom’ however comforting it is to think that.
      Not sure what it is in the post that makes you think I am unaware that 9/11 was an act of terrorism but thanks for sharing.

      • Yes, just for the record, hating us because of our freedom is NOT comforting at all. The Al-Qaeda have flat out said that because of our beliefs and freedoms, we need to be “eradicated”. Next you’re gonna tell me that Bush and the FBI and CIA knew about it and did nothing so that he could use the act of terrorism as an excuse to invade Iraq/Afghanistan. I do not understand not wanting to remember. It affects everybody. Every day Americans were going to work or getting on a plane when this happened. Hell even Pearl Harbour was a military attack of war. This was designed to promote terror in the worst possible way. This affects everybody. The day is not about individual people. It is about our country.

        • It’s comforting to think that everyone who hates the USA has no reason to do so. Turns out Americans are humans too and do shitty stuff like everyone else. Before you get all ARRGLEBARGLE on that comment, obviously I think Al Qaeda are evil bastards, and rate right up there with fascists and Nazis. But the propaganda I’ve seen from them talks a lot more about infidels in the holy land than what the infidels do at home. It’s not comforting to realize that US bombs and guns and trainees might have given others legitimate grievances.

          I’m not one for “they knew” type conspiracies so please don’t put words in my mouth.

          I am not saying “lets all forget about it”. In fact the post is a remembrance. I just get sick of seeing politicians use “9/11” as they do.

          Obviously the US is more of a good guy than a bad guy in the world. Obviously 9/11 is about the US. Obviously I love my country. Relax.

  4. Thanks for sharing Mike.

    I can still recall 9/11 clearly because I was actually home sick from work that day. I was laying in bed in one of those flu like dazes and looked up at the TV and only half seen the news of the first plane hitting. I remembered thinking in my mind it was probably a small prop plane or something and pilot error. I was just waking up and starting to see the smoke coming from the tower on the TV when the second plane hit. Then I was really confused and wondered what was going on.

    Believe it or not I was in a huge Everquest community online at that time and jumped on the computer to see if anyone else had any info or input. It was total chaos on there with people discussing the recent news and everyone wondering if all of our online friends in NY were ok or not. One guy was online from NY and said he couldn’t even see out of his windows because of the dust/ash covering them.

    The days that followed for me were actual a good memory of friends and family and the country in general just growing closer and nicer to one another. I don’t think anyone expected it to last forever but it was certainly a nice change for awhile. I just wish it didn’t take such tragedy for people to show so much more respect for one another on the streets.

    I’ve since lost several friends and family members and I always think the same thing at the funerals and calling hours. Why do we only see most of these people when we lose someone?


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