My story: Disbelief at the news



It was a beautiful early fall day in Denver on Sept 11. Not a cloud in the cobalt blue skies. After the holiday weekend I was on my way to work in an office tower in downtown Denver. I was a federal employee working on the 14th floor.

When I boarded the commuter bus at the park and ride nothing out of the normal. It was just a quiet, unbelievably beautiful fall day. It was now about 8:30 a.m., mountain time. I got off at Denver’s terminal bus station downtown and hopped on the shuttle to go up a couple of blocks where I worked. Most everyone was now at work.

I remember it seemed maybe quieter than usual, being not so many people outside, but it was the day after Labor Day weekend and I put it down to that. People were probably taking advantage of this beautiful start to fall and holiday weekend.

I walked into the building and headed for the elevator. I was dressed casual for work but had the water and extra tote with me for snacks, etc., slung over my shoulder. All the required “work gear.”

I got in elevator and it soon stopped at maybe the third floor. And a man got in and we continued up. Just the two of us. He was dressed casually nice and leaned against the wall and stared at me. Then he started talking.

He just said, “the Pentagon has been bombed and is under siege,” and “New York City has been attacked”. I stared at him wide-eyed. When he got off the elevator before my stop, he turned around with a slight smile and said, “They will probably evacuate the building”.

That was it.

I made a mental note of his description and what floor he got off on. Ready to report a lunatic in building when I got to my floor. I went straight to the chief’s secretary’s desk to report the unsettling talk this person was saying of violence in a very calm way. Attacks on Pentagon, under siege, evacuating this building, etc. All things you don’t want to hear a stranger talking about in a public workplace.

There were some people standing around her desk, and they got quiet and listened to me. I will always remember these words: “It is all true and we will probably evacuate”.

My world, like everyone’s, turned upside down at that moment. The world changed as we all knew it. We were told to evacuate the building within 10 minutes. There was a flow of people leaving the downtown area.

I went home and turned on the TV for the next 24 hours or so, and saw it all unfold. I stopped for coffee at a Starbucks before I got home and they had a “closed for the day” sign on door. It said, “Our prayers are with you, and go home and be with your loved ones”.

I will never forget that day. For many years it was the only time I put a small flag outside on my patio and kept a light on it.