Japan: Home Sweet Home?

Tuesday, September 11, 2001. 11:11 pm. Tokyo, Japan.

I may not be going home for quite sometime.

I typically post humor and light-hearted content to the SiliconChef website. I have nothing funny to say today. Over an hour ago, I watched smoke billow out of the North tower of the World Trade Center on CNN International. Then I watched the Pentagon burn. About thirty minutes after that, a Boeing 767 removed the top half of the South tower of the World Trade Center.

I am over 7,000 miles from my wife. I am over 7,000 miles from my home and everything I know as daily life. Every airport in the United States has been closed.

I am a stranger in a strange land. I am perhaps safer here than I am in my own country. I have no idea when I am coming home.

At 11:26 pm my time, the North tower of the World Trade Center collapsed into Manhattan. Over twenty blocks of New York is covered in debris and smoke. I am somewhere between disbelief and fear.

Many things happened in my life today. My morning meeting was cancelled, due to a typhoon closing several rail lines. I went electronics shopping in Tokyo’s “Electric City”, home of a myriad of advanced technological devices. None of that matters now. Nothing in my last twenty-four hours can even match this.

I am waiting for the other shoe to drop. The attacks on America seem too well organized to stop with New York and Washington. I am waiting for the inevitable report of violence in Chicago or San Francisco. I am wondering if Atlanta is next.

When I called my wife at work, she had not heard about the attacks on Washington. I called her to make sure she heard my voice, to know I was fine. I had to tell her I didn’t know when I was coming home, and not to worry. Mike, my boss, called his wife after that. She was in gridlock traffic heading into Atlanta. At my urging, Mike told her to turn around and go home. I hope she listened.

I am waiting for the other shoe to drop. It is an uncomfortable feeling.

I am an engineer. My profession requires me to organize complicated details into coherent plans. It’s something I’m rather good at. When I work on quality control, I develop a very sadistic attitude towards testing. It’s the reason my mother threatened to disown me from going into weapons design.

My mind now goes down its usual path. I fall into design mode. Two major targets are not enough for such a coordinated attack. There are more symbols of democracy and American pride than those already hit by our unknown attacker. I am watching this unfold, wondering what will be attacked next.

The Sears Tower? The St. Louis Arch? The Golden Gate Bridge?

Now CNN reports that another commercial airplane is in the vicinity of the Pentagon. We are on the phone with our home office in Norcross, trying to figure out what we will do to get home. A plane has crashed outside of Pittsburgh. The Sears Tower is Chicago has been evacuated.

The laces on the other shoe might have just been untied.

7 Replies to “Japan: Home Sweet Home?”

  1. I wasn’t keeping a blog yet back then so I don’t have anything online to link to about it. I’ll dig out my handwritten journal of what I thought one day and post it.

    I’ve never met a person from the U.S. that didn’t know where they were that day. I was working by myself in the basement office of Lindbergh Plaza and I wouldn’t have known anything if I hadn’t felt a bit snacky about that time.

    I went across the street to Quick Trip and the Clerk there said “Did you hear what just happened !?”. I had a big grin on my face as I said “what?”, I was expecting a joke. He told me that a plane had just crashed into the North Trade Center Tower. I think my smile still was pretty much there because I was still waiting for the punch-line.

    “Was that a joke?” I thought to myself as I went back to my office. I immediately jumped on the Internet to search for news … in short order I wasn’t smiling anymore.

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