On 9/11 I was working at CDW selling computers to schools and government offices. I wasn't terribly good at it, I was never much of a corporate guy. The success I had, was garnered through hard work and lots of it. I don't want to give the impression that I was bad at my job, but I didn't care about it, the company didn't care about me…and we had an agreement of sorts. I'd not be there for long.
Besides my day job, I was also bouncing at a local bar. I was also in the Army Reserve* I also had a stupid legal thing happen which meant I kept getting arrested and going to court for no damned reason. I was in survival mode trying to figure out how to earn enough money to deal with my divorce, sell a house I didn't want, and solve my legal conundrum; my life was in turmoil. I didn't know how to be whatever CDW wanted me to be. If I'm honest, I didn't take what we did there very seriously, I was meant for something else, but didn't know what.
* For those of you who don't know, I was a spy in the Army. I'd already deployed once to a conflict zone. I was good at it.
This is a good illustrative aside- My boss, a great dude, but Tony had no idea what to do with me. The company was always trying to incent our sales staff to work harder, but that was never my problem. I never made enough money and I had no real future in the company.
Tony calls me to his cubical and says, "I don't know how to motivate you. It's like you don't even care if you lose your job." "Tony, I can explain, I don't make enough money. You guys don't care about that, I'm not in CDW's future-plans…and if I am, I'm unaware of it—which is a problem. If I lose my job, I can find another employer to constantly ask more of me while underpaying. I can replace this situation dozens of times over in Chicago. (where I lived at the time)."
I didn't dislike Tony, not even on the day when I was fired for parking my golf cart in the river. I just wasn't cut out for the corporate world. I was always going to be a thoroughbred giving 5 cent rides at the fair at CDW.
On the morning of 9/11, I'd put a CD in my player. My signature block was always updated with the disc I was currently playing.
CDW-G Education, State and Local
In the CD player now
Janes Addiction Ritual De Lo Habitual
I was just starting my day. It was just before 8 AM Flight 11 had already hit tower 1. It was still likely an accident. A few of us had discussed it and wondered out loud about what would and had happened. At 8 am I dialed and left a voicemail for call #1. Next, I dialed my last call of the day to a High School in North Carolina…
Track 2, No One's Leaving, is the track playing, I got through to the lady who ran the IT department…instantly, I heard screams in the background. "What's going on?" She responds, "I don't know, they're saying a plane hit one of the twin towers in New York.
As we tried to sort out we were saying to one another. I heard a woman in the background scream out! Another one hit the other tower. I said, "Good Bye," All around the cubical farm, heads popped up, like prairie dogs. I was different.
I grabbed my stuff, walked to Tony's desk, "A second plane hit the other tower, that's not an accident, that's terrorism, I need to get to my unit." Tony, ever the great guy, looked at me, shocked—we all were—nodded his head and I left.
I was asked today, what did I do about my daughter who was 4 years old at the time? I have no memory of doing anything, I'm sure her mom and I worked something out, but my place was with my unit. I have no recollection of any of the regular life stuff. It simply wasn't important.
Living in the Chicagoland area, we didn't know what was going to happen, were we next? Were the twin towers just the first salvo, other planes were reported to have crashed, other still unaccounted for.
The news of the plane hitting the Pentagon arrived as I did at my unit. Within 20 minutes, the South Tower of the World Trade Center had fallen as I waited for someone to open my unit's HQ.
I sat, with another soldier who arrived moments after me, for over 36 hours. We didn't know what to expect. I just knew that the pen I had been kept in was opened. I finally knew that I had a purpose, it wasn't 5 cent rides…I was going to war, and I was fine with it.