I’m fine, though shaken. Everybody I know at [My employer] is fine, too. Right after I heard the first phone calls about a plane crashing into the World Trade Center, I pulled up MSNBC, and saw the picture of the north tower on fire. I couldn’t believe it, pried open my 11th-floor window, and looked out around the side of the building. There was the disaster, just like it was pictured on the Web, large as life. By that time, both the towers were in flames, and a tremendous column of smoke was streaming out to the west. Frankly, it didn’t look real; it looked like a digital composite matted onto the blue sky above the buildings in the foreground. The traffic in the street was completely normal, the foot traffic on the sidewalk was normal, too.
I walked to the south side of the building, where we could see the towers clearly through the windows. We saw the hole where the first plane had hit, and we saw the fire slowly creeping down the sides of the towers. I turned around to walk back to my desk, heard gasps and screams, and spinned around in time to see the south tower collapse. That’s what made it real, I guess.
Steve Farrell, Kieran Downes, and I walked over to Bellvue hospital to see if we could give blood. By this time, everyone was on their cellphone, everyone was talking to each other about what was happening. “I know someone who works…” “I used to work…” “It’s the anniversary of the Camp David accord…” “They say the Pentagon…” All the NYU and Baruch students were out in the street, in their fire drill stations, smiling and laughing and talking on their phones.
We got to the hospital just as they were locking it down. We got in and asked about giving blood, but the donor room was still dark and locked. On the way back to the front desk, we were hustled out of the building by cops and administrators in orange armbands. That was cool; they obviously needed to get things under control first, so we walked back to [My employer] and learned that the second tower had collapsed.
I spent some time at my desk, trying to think of something to do. I really didn’t want to spend the day watching TV and seeing the same footage over and over again, and I’d feel stupid trying to work. My stepfather Robin, who’s an emergency coordinator, suggested that I call the Red Cross and offer to help out. To my surprise, they answered the phone and asked us to come up to Red Cross headquarters to give blood and maybe volunteer. At that time, it seemed like they wanted First Aid and CPR-certified volunteers. So I got a group of about eight people together and we walked up there. (I’m actually updating this post at the end of the day.)