I was working at the local vet clinic, greeting clients, entering patients’ charts into the system, getting everything ready for the busy day of surgeries and appointments ahead. One of our regulars called in while our waiting room was hectic and I was helping another client. Now, this regular usually told outlandish jokes that no one found funny, so you shouldn’t be shocked when I told her, “That’s not funny,” and hung up on her when she began to tell me that one of the twin towers had been struck by an airplane.
I finished checking in my patient and had just waved her owner out the door when one of the technicians came running from the back, urging us to follow him – something big had just happened on the news. I had already forgotten my crazy, unfunny client on the phone, and so there was no dawning of realization at this moment. The other receptionist and I followed him obediently into the treatment area and joined the group surrounding the small portable radio sitting on one of the counters.
My client’s news was confirmed on the radio hastily by a big-sounding man. He was reporting live from the scene, describing destruction and chaos we couldn’t imagine with something akin to excitement in his voice.
Then there was silence.
“Oh my god! Oh my god! Another plane has just hit the second tower! OMIGOD!!” Our reporter no longer sounded excited, but fearful.
Our office manager walked in as we were being told of this horrific tragedy. We pulled ourselves from the radio and moved on with our own hectic day. As the receptionist and fielder of phone calls, I received many from clients, friends and family of coworkers, and my own best friend, relating the news, worrying about loved ones who were currently in NYC or even in one of the towers. News trickled in about two more planes. By the time I left for my only Tuesday class at 1:30 p.m., I was in shock – I couldn’t believe such horrible things had happened.
On my way to campus, my best friend called again. “Classes are canceled. Wanna get some lunch?” We ate our greasy pizza and drank our cold beer, as silently as everyone else in Little Italy, as silently as the whole town, as silently as the nation.