I am only 22, and have only had the pleasure of living in Boise, Idaho for the last 12 years of my life-but the following story is the most fucked up experience that I have been through. It’s a story filled with intrigue, danger, romance, homework, cheating….and terrorists blowing up the World Trade Center in New York on September 11th. Everyone has a 9-11 story, and this is mine…
I’ve always had a thing for Michael Jackson. (Who knows, if I was a little younger, he might even have a thing for me….) I’ve always been a huge fan of his musical ability, his unique approach to videos and his bad-ass dance moves. (How can you not give credit to Michael Jackson-he’s the greatest living entertainer of ALL time, seconded only by jesus christ.) So, when I heard that he was doing a reunion concert with his brothers-his first show in the United States in over 11 years…..and when I heard that Gloria Gaynor was going to appear live and sing ‘I Will Survive’……and when I heard that this was all going down at Madison Square Gardens in New York City on September 10th 2001-what the fuck do you think I did? I bought those god-damn, three-hundred and fifty dollar tickets and got my best friend to go with me…(to protect the innocent, all names in this story have been changed-we’ll just call my friend Victor.)
Now my dad was a pilot for Delta, so I flew for free. My dad hooked my friend Victor up with a ‘buddy pass,’ (which I think is French for ‘if there is room on the plane, you can get on board-if there isn’t room on the plane-you are fucked, and aren’t going anywhere.’) Now just call me Mr. Connections, but my 36-year old, convicted felon, possibly gay, overweight, broke-ass roommate at the time (we’ll just call him Bill in this story) was a travel agent. So-Victor and I got reservations for a pimp-ass, room in the Newark Hilton (which is actually in New Jersey.) So the plan was to leave Saturday the 8th, fly all night and get into Newark Sunday morning. We would check into the hotel Sunday, September 9th, in the morning, and check out Tuesday, September 11 and fly back to Boise. Now, for the record Newark is right across the border from New York City. We’re talking a 5 minute subway ride, from the shittiest state in the union-to the shittiest state in the world. New Jersey is a fucking dump.
I remember the afternoon I picked Victor up from this parents house. He was a senior in High School, and had taken several school days off to come to New York with me. (I would have still been in High School also, but I had dropped out already.) I remember as I was pulling out of Victors driveway his dad making some comment about us being careful. (Victors dad was always full of worthless sayings, wisdom and warnings-he was like a 5’4, Yoda.) Victors dad mentioned how the American governments involvement with the middle-east could easily make New York and Washington DC prime terrorists targets-and we should be careful. We laughed his lame-ass off, and drove to the airport. Thanks Nostradomus….we’ll be fine.
The flight arrangements sucked ass. Due to us flying for free-we had the shittiest itinerary possible. Fly out of Boise in the afternoon, land in Salt Lake City an hour later, and then wait 7 hours for our over-night flight to Atlanta. From Atlanta we would fly the 3 remaining hours to Newark and check into our hotel some time Sunday morning. Victor and I (as always) made the best of it. During our layover in Salt Lake we got a free ride to the center of town thanks to the Mormon Tabernacle shuttle. (These fucking Mormons have thought of everything. So lets say you got time to kill waiting for your flight at the Salt Lake City airport-what do you do? You get a free ride to tour the Mormon temple and gardens. And they’ll even take you back to the airport in enough time so you can catch your flight. This is where the Hari Krishna’s went wrong…They weren’t mobile.) Anyhow, once the shuttle stopped at temple square Victor and I ran off into the direction of a mall and spent the evening eating, playing video games in their arcade and checking out all the fine Salt Lake City ass. (You know I’ve been a lot of places around the U.S. before-but never will you see better looking chicks than in Salt Lake. Quite possibly even better than all the hot ass walking the Salt Lake City streets, is that the dudes that live in Salt Lake all look like they’re in-bred. Score.) Victor and I took a taxi back to the airport and finished our trip with no problems. We made it into Atlanta, and then Newark with no delays. (I do remember flying through the worst storm of my life on the overnighter to Atlanta. God, I hate flying….)
Victor and I spent Sunday and Monday roaming the New York City streets. I was 18, and Victor was 17. (There isn’t a lot of trouble we could have gotten into-and trust me, we looked for it.) We made the usual New York purchases (fake Oakley’s off some bum on a corner, fake Rolexes from some dude selling shit out of a trash bag….) We wandered through Central Park, and Times Square-watched MTV’s TRL from the street. Sunday night we paid a bum to buy us beer and vodka, and then got ripped off. (We did eventually get some beer and drank too much of it.) I remember Monday morning going into the McDonalds that’s at the base of the Newark Hilton (four-star- class-my-ass,) and pouring a full beer into an empty McDonalds cup, in the middle of their dining room. No one cared. There were bums passed out, black punk rockers tweaking (yes, I did say black punk rockers,) business men and women in suits and ties not giving a fuck about anything besides their egg and cheese biscuit. And here I was, 18 years old at 10 in the morning drinking a beer in the dining room of a McDonalds-god what a rebel, someone get me a cause….
The Concert was OK. For three-hundred and fifty bucks I guess I was expecting to be a little closer to the stage than the 4th story we ended up at. I suppose it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see the man without a face throw down. I can’t complain-I’ve seen worse shows…..(Bruce Springsteen comes instantly to mind.) After the concert Victor and I proceeded to attempt to finish the 18 pack of beer we had left. We got close….
Five-thirty in the morning came early for Victor and I on Tuesday, September 11th. We woke up, checked out and were at the airport half-an-hour before our plane left. We flew out at 7:10am from Newark, New Jersey and little did we know, we were sharing the same airport as terrorists. Our plane was scheduled to fly from Newark to San Francisco, with a stop in Salt Lake City. The plan was to switch planes in Salt Lake and make it back to Boise by Tuesday evening. As Victor and I boarded the plane, hung-over and exhausted I felt calm, and peaceful-even though the only room left on the plane was one seat in the back (which was Victors,) and one seat in first class (which was mine.) (And you all know how much I hate flying in general, let alone in the front of a plane…) We taxied on the run-way and took off as the in-flight movie (Bridget Jones’s Diary) started, and the New York skyline disappeared behind us.
I had a lot of shit going on that week. Bill and I were moving from an apartment to a house and had to be gone by Saturday the 15th. My girlfriend (at the time) was living off me-(you know, not paying rent, not working, not cleaning, barely putting out….and pissing me off.) Bill had convinced me that she was NOT moving into our new house once we moved-so I had to spring that on her when I got back. Plus, I was failing my English class in college-I had a personal experience essay (which ended up being this) due by Friday. I was also in the process of quitting my job and trying to find another one, but whatever, back to the story…..
About an hour into the flight, the captain came on the intercom and told us that the plane was landing. No reason, no destination-but the plane was landing. I awoke as the voice came back on several minutes later with the news of our landing in Kansas (no joke.) I asked a stewardess if what I had just heard was correct, she told me that every plane in the nation had been ordered down and no one knew what was going on. As the plane descended into Kansas, I managed to fill Victor in on the situation. Victor figured it was Godzilla invading, I thought it was the Chinese invading…..As our plane made its way into the Kansas airport, we knew something was fucked up. We taxied down the runway and saw literally 50 or 60 planes scattered throughout the landing strips-something was wrong. We sat in that plane for at least an hour waiting for an open gate to unload at. The Captain never came on the intercom, never told us what was going on-I’m sure he was afraid of panic breaking out inside the plane.
Finally we began unloading at an empty gate. I was in first class in the first row so I was the first in the plane to get out. Some old lady that been sitting next to me began trailing behind me as I led the way into the airport terminal. A Delta gate agent stood at the top of the ramp and asked us to gather around him. Several of us huddled together as he told us of the situation. He told us how the nation was under a national emergency and 2 planes had hit the Trade Center towers in New York, a plane had hit the Pentagon-and there was still a plane missing somewhere. It had seemed that to prevent any more attacks-every plane in the nation (especially those from New York) had been grounded immediately. (That seemed to explain our rapid descent….let me rephrase that, our rapid free-fall,) into Kansas. Victor made it off the plane, and I filled him in on the situation. We wandered through the airport for several hours-stranded.
Eventually, Victor called his parents and informed them that he was safe, alive and well in Kansas. (My dad had checked the registry for the outbound flights from Newark and knew I was safe.) But what were we going to do now? We had no money, no credit cards and worst of all-I had no clean clothes. (I had been wearing the same pair of socks for 2 days.) Victors parents ended up knowing some Christian pastors in Kansas, and soon we had been picked up from the airport (which was being completely emptied by the airport security.) We were taken to this small church in the middle of nowhere, where we hung out all night. Evidently the church was having an emergency prayer meeting-and we had the pleasure of sitting in front of a TV in one of their children’s rooms-and watching the news replay the camera footage of the 2nd plane hitting the Trade center. (By this time the fourth plane had crashed in Pennsylvania.) We must have watched that fucking crash a thousand times on TV before we finally got disgusted by the news stations and wandered out into Kansas.
I don’t remember much of Kansas, just a lot of farms. I remember seeing gas stations knock their price of gasoline to 20-something dollars a gallon-and seeing 30 or 40 cars waiting in line to fill up. People were panicked in the Midwest, I can only imagine what it must have been like on the East Coast after the attacks. Victor and I made our way to a small convenience store where the only socks and t-shirts they sold were Kansas City Chiefs official merchandise-so I bought a new wardrobe. That night after the church service, these crazy jesus freaks we were staying with took us to a sports bar where they drank virgin Shirley temples and ate appetizers and talked about the events of the day. Victor and I were completely irritated, (especially considering we had to tell our story 500 times to every church member, waitress and pastor we ran into that night.) We finally got back to the pastors house where they stayed up till 2 in the morning watching those fucking news reports over and over again. Victor and I had been up since 5:30 that morning, and eventually we passed out on their couches in the living room. The next day we had hoped to fly out of this hell-hole (but we were still flying stand-by, which meant we were fucked….)
Evidently the FAA decided not to reopen the airports until the next week, so Victor and I were stuck. I called Bill and we formulated a plan. Victor and I would take a Greyhound bus from Kansas City to Denver, Colorado, and Bill would pick us up. We were so excited to get away from our lame hosts we never realized what lay ahead of us-a bus trip that started at 8pm on Wednesday and ended with our arrival (half way to Boise) in Denver-Thursday night. I wish I could say the trip was eventful (there was the stereotypical old, black lady traveling alone who was fighting with an imaginary boyfriend the whole trip.) There was a family (with a fairly hot, blond daughter I remember) that we talked with for most of the trip. They had been stranded in Kansas as well and were headed for California. Sucked to be them….
Victor and I finally made it to Denver and Bill picked us up. He had driven from Boise to Denver (which is an 18 hour trip,) then turned around and headed back. Bill drove till the middle of the night-then we got a hotel in Utah. I remember talking to my then-girlfriend on the phone, and her telling me how much she loved me and was happy to know I was like….you know….alive still. The next afternoon we made it back to Boise, safe and relatively unharmed. It was Friday, September 14th and although I hated Boise (and still do) there was no place I would have rather been than home. I took a shower, called some friends, rented a U-Haul and started moving shit out of our apartment-(we had to be out by midnight the next day.)
All in all, we moved our shit out, I got my personal experience essay done (I turned it in late, but still got full credit for it,) and told my girlfriend she was not moving into the house with me. (Its kind of funny now, 4 years later, but I’m at this party and I actually meet the guy she evidently had spend the night with her that weekend. Evidently he was to drunk to remember if they did anything, but they slept in my apartment, in my bed. Fucking whore….)
My entire 9-11 story is true. To make it more intense I soon learned that my Delta flight that left from Newark, New Jersey at 7:10am on September 11th, and was scheduled to fly from New Jersey to San Francisco with a stop in Salt Lake City –is almost identical to the flight that crashed in Pennsylvania. That United Airlines flight left Newark, New Jersey at 8:01am,and was headed for San Francisco as well. It was the exact same flight, just a different airline company, and left half-an-hour after mine. That’s fucking close.
I’m not going to end this story with a rant, or some political propaganda…..but I will say this. On September 12th, 2001 the entire fucking WORLD was on Americas side. They saw what we went through, and would have done ANYTHING to help us out. The entire planet saw the drama, and tragedy that took place involving close to three-thousand innocent civilians. But look at us now. One, two, now three years later the world hates us. We’ve taken a bad situation and made it worse. Every fucking country in the world was with us, and now it seems like we’ve alienated them all. Sometimes I think we forget who the real enemy is. Anyhow, that’s enough…..I hope you all enjoyed my story….
And you were hoping it was a story about me and a couple hookers in Vegas weren’t you?