By Clare Duffy, NBC Nightly News Producer
My own answer to the "Where were you when...?" question is, I think, typical of many New Yorkers. I was riding the bus to work, in my case down Fifth Avenue toward Rockefeller Center after an early morning appointment. Someone on the bus said they had heard a small plane had struck one of the World Trade Center towers, and another said it was probably a stunt gone wrong, like that idiot that had tried to BASE jump off a downtown building a few weeks earlier. That idea seemed to make perfect sense and was somehow comforting. But as those of us seated in the front of the bus peered out of the windshield downtown, the ominous black smoke pouring out of lower Manhattan gave the lie to that story. Everyone stared wide-eyed out the window, feeling more trapped by the minute as traffic slowed to a halt, drivers dumbfounded by what they were looking at. I got off at my stop at a dead run, eager to get into the office and knowing it would be a very bad day indeed. One of my fellow passengers said, "You take care" - not something you normally hear from a total stranger. Not in this town.
Six years later, I was riding the bus again this morning - this time heading crosstown. It was raining and the bus was packed, which puts no one in a good mood. Suddenly, the driver lurched to the curb between stops, shut down the engine, the air conditioning, everything. And just sat. Everyone looked around quizzically, and one very irritated guy said, "Why have we stopped?" Another woman said, "Look at the time, it's 8:46a" - the exact time when the first plane hit the tower. Our driver apparently chose to observe a moment of silence, as did many people all over town. Many, but not all. Irritated Guy let out an exasperated sigh and said "I KNOW what day it is, I have to get to work!"
You take care.