Monday, September 14, 2009


With all the entertaining I am doing over at Facebook, I forgot to post up my usual 9/11 story here.
I try to post it every year now, 'cept maybe I even forgot to last year. Its a story that goes almost like a Star Wars prequel. I hope it reminds you of how lucky we truly are to be Americans, and how unpredictable the future really is.

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. 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.

Bear with me here...

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 as a food processor, sealing foods we prepared into bags and storing them in two 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 last day 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 40 Propane Tanks 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 prospect 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..”“

““WHOA!““I am freakin’ out.

I says to myself:
““I know none of those tanks were open. I checked them all. I double checked them all…”
“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.
It was February 26, 1993 and that event that day would come to be known as the , "First World Trade Center Bombing".
That was 13 (sic) 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.
*This was written some years ago. Fortunately the steps that have been taken to help protect us have worked well. It has not become a common occurance on our soil , but like Kissyface commented a few years ago, some folks have really made a foul use of us perceiving it that way.


Barbara said...

We still through we were invincible when the 1993 attempt failed. Little did we know...

Martijn said...

Woah Steve, what a very impressive story is this! Haunting. It's like a (short) film script.


Martijn said...

9/11 in Europe.

I don't know, but it could just be that people in America are wondering how the 9/11 events made an impact on people in other parts of the world. I can't speak for Iran, Panama, Tasmania, Bora Bora, etcetera, but I can tell you about my own experiences.

It was a working day. Somewhere in the afternoon my boss stormed downstairs with the words "there has been a terrorist attack in America... planes flew in the World Trade Center and the Pentagon". With my co-workers and me this news caused something of a buzz, but in hindsight I am very surprised how cool and laconic everyone was. We all heard it but continued working as if this was all just something that had nothing to do with us. Very strange experience. I remember saying: "Well, at least the News is gonna be interesting to watch for a chance". I'm not ashamed for this cynicism: it's just a second nature to tell jokes and I blame society for having made me as insensitive as I am. The scale of these events didn't fully seeped through till later, seeing it on TV. How bad is that!? ‘Things have no importance and meaning till you see it on TV.’ However, the first real shock was when my boss came down for the second time that afternoon saying: "the towers have come down". And I said: "but what about all those people?" "Exactly!," my boss said. At that time, something of the scale of the horror became clear to me. Then I went home, flipped on the TV and sat spellbound and flabbergasted till late at night.

bulletholes said...

Yeah, it was a hell of a thing.
I didn't know how much they hated us till that day.

Martijn said...

Really? There were some signs though. But don't feel bad about it: there are violent idiots everywhere, at every time. But this time they had planes.