September 11, 2001. It’s an inescapable marker of this generation. There will forever be before Nine Eleven, and after Nine Eleven. It’s such a profound marker in time that it’s hard to even remember what the world looked like before it. And we will all remember where we were on that fateful day.
My story is rather unceremonious. I was working at the Millennium Bostonian Hotel near Faneuil Hall Marketplace in downtown Boston as a group sales manager. I had been at the hotel for three years and was now enjoying my own office space, albeit without a door. Our offices abutted a cigar bar whose ventilation system was conspicuously rigged to ours and which meant rather suffocating smells late in the day on Thursdays and Fridays. But this day was a crisp, clear, Tuesday and after our business review meeting, the day was operating on schedule. I remember when our banquets manager walked into the office as he always did, to pick up the mail and see which “pop-up” meetings he had to look forward to this week. But on this day he was also reporting some rather curious news – that a plane had hit the World Trade Center.
Curious indeed. Although I’d grown up just an hour from New York, having lived in Boston for then seven years, my first thought was to Boston’s World Trade Center. Odd, because although adjacent to Logan Airport, it was only two or three stories off the ground and I couldn’t fathom how a plane leaving Logan could possibly crash into the low-rise complex. It wouldn’t be long before I found myself grossly mistaken. A number of us convened in the Atrium Lounge around the biggest television sets the hotel had and watched as the second plane hit the Towers live. Most had already figured out they were witnessing perhaps the biggest news event of their lives, regardless of their age. Others were motionless. And a small group of staff were panicking and preparing to leave the hotel.
We all knew we’d be forever linked to those who were around us on that day. In the hotel, we were diligent to make sure the group’s in house were safe and that we extended the stays of so many folks who would not be able to make flights home. As taller buildings were evacuated in Boston, the origination point for the terrorists’ weapons, so many of us were about to have our worlds flipped on a dime.
It began as a mundane Tuesday, but when we left work that day, our jobs, our family life, and everything we did from that point on would forever be shaped by nineteen devils who used the travel industry to turn our lives upside down.