Long Drive Home
On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, I was working out of town near Washington, D.C., on a consulting project. I was reviewing some project documentation in my office when I looked out and noticed a huddle of my staff staring at the television in the lobby. I walked out of the office and asked what was going on and began watching the coverage just before the second plane impacted the second tower. We nervously scanned the sky after learning a third plane had been reported heading toward D.C. Though I never saw the plane in the air, we could clearly see the smoke from the Pentagon after the plane crashed there.
My wife, Catherine, had traveled to Memphis for a meeting and had been frantically attempting to reach me to see if I was okay. When the cell phone traffic volume finally settled enough for her calls to get through, the first thing I told her was not to turn in her rental car and to plan to drive it back to Kansas City. I knew they would shut down the air transportation system until things settled down, so several of us that lived in the Midwest jumped into my rental car and started the long drive back from D.C.
During the drive, I learned that one of my partners had committed suicide late in the day after a highly stressful day in which he had been under the impression his entire team may have been killed when the plane hit the Pentagon (we later learned that none of them had been hurt, but that they had been unable to make contact with anyone). He had already been under other stresses and apparently this event was the final straw for him. He was a wonderful man (I wonder how many other deaths are tangentially related to bin Laden).
My wife, driving her rental back from Memphis by herself, met up with us along the way, and I joined her as my colleagues continued their trek to Denver in my rental car.