Thursday, September 11, 2008

Where Were You That Day?

I was in a newsroom in Montenegro working with a local journalist named Ratko. Except for us and two other reporters, the newsroom was empty.

Ratko got a call on his cell from a friend, who told him, "tell the American you're working with that there's been a plane crash in NY." He called back less than a minute later: "tell her there's been another one."

We tried to get online but all the news sites were jammed. I called one of my brothers on my cell but the phone lines were jammed. Just then I got a call from my sister in England. She was crying so hard I couldn't understand what she was trying to say.

She held her phone up to the television so I could hear the BBC anchorman. That's how I found out. 

Where were you?


Rick Tuma said...

I had just gotten out of the shower when my wife ran upstairs to tell me that a plane had hit one of the towers. She had surmised that this would mean an early commute to Chicago and my job at the Chicago Tribune.

On the train ride downtown the conductors urged everyone to get off at the Oak Park station and return home as the city was emptying out. Only a few of us chose to continue on; myself, a graphics person for Channel 2 news and another reporter for a paper I know longer recall.

When we arrived downtown it was like swimming against a strong current as everyone was rushing to get out of the city.

Even more stunning was the city after midnight! After a long and mind-numbing day - how many thousands of times can you watch the two planes hit the towers on CNN without losing your focus - Robert Dorrell (also a news graphics coworker) and I exited the Tribune Tower out onto a deserted Michigan Avenue. Immediately, heavily armed cops began running towards us shouting for us to get off the sidewalk. As we glanced around we could see armed cops at every intersection up and down the Magnificent Mile, traffic lights set to flashing red.

We made a hasty retreat onto Lower Michigan and after making a few detours walked to the parking garage he'd left his car in, near Navy Pier.

Jan Tuma said...

I was at work at the animal hospital. I happened to walk into the office where the television was on and several people stood watching. I remember seeing them re-play the tape of the first plane hitting. I thought it was a small plane, just a terrible accident. It couldn't have been done on purpose. Then, moments later, I watched as the second plane hit. I couldn't believe it was really happening. Not here, not in the U.S. I felt suddenly vulnerable, not so safe anymore.
I called Rick at home. I contemplated NOT calling. I knew he would rush into Chicago to his job at the Tribune. I was worried that the city wasn't safe. Maybe the next target? But, I knew he would want to go. I had to tell him. I had to tell somebody.

Rick Tuma said...

Wow. My wife's memory is sharper than mine! I guess she DID call me after I got out of the shower because as soon as I read what Jan wrote it came into focus. Scary how our memories are not always reliable years later.

The rest of my comment is accurate (I think).

Aleksey said...

I was in Kharkiv, working with a group of USA guests from Kharkiv-Cincinatti group. We were watching this all on news...

Amy Green said...

I was working for the AP in Nashville, Tenn. I got sent to the state Capitol to assess the threat there. The governor's press secretary arrived at a news conference in tears.