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Cape Fear Voices/The Teen Scene

Cape Fear Voices/The Teen Scene

Cape Fear Voices/The Teen Scene

Manhattan 9/11: 6 Miles from Ground Zero

Photo by Matteo Catanese on Unsplash

It was a sunny day on my walk across midtown on 9/11. At 8:50 a.m., a block from my office, two cops on bicycles raced passed on Lexington Avenue. When I arrived, about a dozen co-workers were glued to the TV. My first reaction on seeing the fireball: “Islamic terrorism.”

A co-worker who had attended seminary chided, “Don’t jump to conclusions.”

I noted that this was not a small plane but a jet, and that its path was deliberate. When the second plane struck at 9:03 a.m., I repeated: “Islamic terrorism.”

I tried to work for a while. Our PR agency was on the 6th floor of a 20-story building on Third Avenue near Grand Central and about six miles from Ground Zero. The likelihood of a plane diving into us seemed remote. At about 10:15 a.m., the agency said anyone who wanted to go could leave. Many left right away. Around 11 a.m., I went down to the street to mull my options and spotted something strange across the street. Most people were walking uptown, but one fast-walking woman stood out like a ghost. From head to toe, she was powdered white.

I lived in New Jersey and normally traveled by bus through the Lincoln Tunnel, but both tunnels were closed as well as the PATH trains. The few ferries crossing the Hudson River would be mobbed. The George Washington Bridge was closed, too, except for foot traffic. The bridge, it seemed, could be another target, and I didn’t want to send anyone into the chaos to get me. Complicating matters, our area had lost cell service; I was low on cash, and the ATMs would be a crapshoot if they worked.

There were a few things going for me, though. Because Court TV was in our building, it was open 24/7. Our office was still connected to the Internet, and we had showers and sofas. So I sent an email home and continued to monitor the situation. The rest of my co-workers left one by one. By 2:30 p.m., I was the only one left. It was quiet, so I exchanged emails with my family, worked until 10:30 p.m., stopped for a gyro, and watched more news.

The FAA had closed the airspace over New York, so I felt safe, though I woke with a start at 3 a.m. and saw two planes, apparently heading into LaGuardia. I finally decided they must be military. When my co-workers were coming in the next day, I told the boss I had spent the night after logging 7 hours and was planning to head home.

At the time, I was pursuing a master’s degree at the Zicklin School of Business at Baruch College in NYC. One classmate was shaky before the next class. Her company, based at The World Trade Center (WTC), had lost a third of its workers.

Hitting closer to home, I had walked across Manhattan with a friend in the mid-nineties –until he landed a job at the WTC. Mike was a tall, friendly Cuban with blonde hair and a mustache who liked marching with bagpipes and wanted to start a business manufacturing kilts. A few months after taking the job, I saw him again on the bus. He told me the 1992 WTC bombing was never a real concern.

On 9/11, he escaped the tower, but his knee gave out several blocks away. A month later, while undergoing knee surgery he died of a blood clot. He was survived by a wife and three young sons. I always wondered if his family was included in the victim’s compensation fund.



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About the Contributor
Charles Bins
Charles Bins, Writer, illustrator
Charles Bins is the author of Quirky Stories & Poems: Backwards, Forward & Upside Down published in the fall of 2023. The book is about many things – real and fictional accounts about growing up, pleasure and pain, good and evil, as well as quirky insights into human nature.  As a marketing PR pro, he wrote hundreds of articles for clients on topics spanning business, technology and consumer products. Early in his career, he was a syndicated entertainment columnist, interviewing celebrities such as Tom Hanks, Kenny Rogers and Patty Duke. He lives with his wife, Mary, two cats and a cockatoo in Leland, N.C. Learn more on his website.


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    Daniel NeizmikSep 3, 2023 at 8:34 am


    Thank you for sharing your story. Well done.
    Dan Neizmik