Monday, September 10, 2007



Everyone has their story to tell concerning 9/11 and so do I.
In February of 1993 I had been looking for a Chef position for several months with not much luck. I finally found work with a good company out of Dallas called “Culinaire’ International” . They had their fingers in a lot of pots, so to speak, including several Private Clubs and a High End Catering operation that did a lot of business with Ross Perot. The biggest part of their operation was doing foodservice for some large concerns in the Trade Area of Dallas. In addition to the Apparell Mart (Clothing), the Info Mart (Technology) and Market Hall (Housewares and Furnishings), they also did events at the Dallas Convention Center. They worked out of a huge kitchen in the World Trade Center @ Dallas.
On a “try-out” basis, I was hired to work mainly on one event coming up- the “Mary Kay” convention @ the Convention Center. It was breakfast lunch and Dinner for 10,000 ladies for 3 days. We spent 2 weeks operating really as a food processor, sealing Foods we prepared into bags and storing them in 2 -18 wheel Trailers. This was all done in and just outside the World Trade Center@ Dallas.
When it came event time, the trailers and an awful lot of equipment went to the Convention Center from the World Trade Center. Included in the Equipment were about a dozen of what we called “Boiling Oceans”. They were big water baths or “Bain Maries” as we call them in the business. I don’t know how many gallons of water they held, but they were about 12’ x3’ and 2 feet deep. We used them to heat up all the food that we had been "Seal-a-Mealing” for the last 2 weeks. The heat was generated by big propane tanks, not the backyard BBQ kind, but the one’s that look like Torpedoes.
The 3 days went smoothly, and I was impressed by the company and they seemed to like me. It took 2 days of hard work to get the Conevention Center cleaned up and everything back to the World Trade Center.
On my lastday there, one of the last tasks I had was to take the leftover Propane tanks and put them in cages on the 2nd floor of the World Trade Center. On the way up I checked to make sure the valves were completely closed. Outside the cage, I again checked to make sure the valves were completely shut. And after putting them in the cages ….checked again. All 20 are secure. Cage is locked.
An hour later I was on my way home. It’s a beautiful February day in 1993 and I am excited about the prospects of going to work for “Culinaire International”. At some point I turn on the radio for some tunes but what I get is a “Special Report”.
It is breaking news and what I hear is this:
“There has been an explosion at the World Trade Center. I can see smoke pouring out of the 2nd Floor window and people are being evacuated. Emergency vehicles are arriving but we have no further information. Stay tuned for further information..”
Well, I am freakin’ out.
“I know none of those tanks were open. I checked them all. I double checked them all…” I am saying to myself.
“Then what caused the explosion?” the other voice in my head asks.
Should I go back and explain that it could not be the tanks on the second floor that I had “Secured” that had caused this explosion? Sure, I’ll tell the newsguy that and the backdrop can be the smoke pouring out of the 2nd floor window.
Like I said, I’m freakin’ out.
I frantically search the radio dial all the way home. One more report confirms the explosion being at the World Trade Center and that the smoke is coming out of windows all the way up to the 5th floor now and there appear to be only a few minor injuries. Information is still sketchy as this has just occurred within the hour.
Freakin’ out. I'm losin' it.
Pull into my driveway, run into the house to turn on the news. I am sure that not only have my chances at”Culinaire” gone up in smoke, but I am forever to be known as the guy that blew up the WTC @ Dallas.
T.V. is on.
I can stop freakin’ out.
By coincidence some fanatic had parked a Van full of fertilizer in the garage of the World Trade Center in New York City.
That event that day would come to be known as the "First World Trade Center Bombing"
That was 14 years ago and I had no idea at the time just how common this kind of thing might become.
I had no idea I would wake up one morning to find someone had flown a plane into each of those two towers.
That’s my story.


Dave Mows Grass said...

Enjoyed the repost! This is one of those stories that deserves multiple re-tellings.

Barbara said...

And I have a hard time cooking for 8! OMG, 10,000 is beyond belief. I always wondered how they managed to get everything for a big event hot at the same time.

I can imagine you were freaking out thinking you had blown up the WTC. I have been known to drive back home to make sure I turned the stove off. Worrying about that sort of thing drives me crazy!

Mother of Invention said...

I can imagine you freaking out.
Who would ever have even dreamed what happened was even possible?
I still find it hard to believe it actually happened. All those older TV shows that show the two towers give you a weird feeling when you see them. Tomorrow will be hard for many people.

steve said...

Dave- I like this story too!

barb- I had some help...

Mom- I geuss it was about 2 years later McVeigh blew up the Fed building in Oklahoma...

GrizzBabe said...

I should post this story every 9/11 anniversary. It's definitely a good one.

GrizzBabe said...

I meant to say YOU should post this story every 9/11.

I'm tired. I should be in bed.

Anonymous said...

for some reason i can do 9/11 ... i can't read about it .... when i was in New York, i didn't take the subway down to ground zero like my sister did ... i just can remember the surreality of it all: like watching a movie and thinking about the special effects; the stunned feeling i had walking with my husband down to the kids' school at the time, only to be turned away: school officials believed it was best for the children to 'not know' until after school had officially been let out ....

but most of all? i remember realizing that it: 9/11 was the beginning of the end: of everything i once believed in - and i mean this personally, in my own life.

banquet manager said...

Hey Bullet-
My story is this:

On that fateful day, I was working at 38th street and Madison Avenue in NYC setting up a banquet event for the next day. One of my houseman was late and I went to find out where he was. I walked downstairs to the lobby to find him, and everybody else from the hotel, huddled around the big screen TV in our lounge.
I watched both towers fall as millions of others did. The site I will not forget is watching thousands of people walking in the middle of the street covered head to toe in soot, dirt, and blood. No one said a word. They just walked from downtown to midtown to get away from the mayhem.
I got the last train out of NYC (to my area) around 3pm and made it home safe. Many were not as lucky.
The rest is history.
So You Want To Be a Banquet Manager

kissyface said...

Poor baby - how many years came off your life from that particular worry?

I know someone who was quite near to the Oklahoma City bombing, but heard none of it as they were preparing bread for a nearby restaurant. I guess the bldg was too thick.

Fortunately for us, it has not become common, though I think some folks might really make use of us perceiving it that way.

I suppose I should post my 9/11 story, but it will come off even more name-droppy than I usually am, so maybe I'll just tell YOU.

I will say this: I had friends flying in and out of NY that day.