My 9/11 story

I thought long and hard about whether to share this story, which I have kept to myself for fifteen years, but I figure it can’t do any harm.  This story has been with me since before I started having problems with delusional thinking, and it has never changed in my mind- so I really think it is true. It may not be, though, which is the frustrating caveat I have to make for all my memories. Take it as you find it.

In September of 2001, I was gearing up to leave my abusive first husband, who lived in Auburn, Alabama. I was packing things (my now ex husband was travelling overseas, and I planned to be gone when he got back) on the evening of September 10. I answered the ringing phone.

There was a person on the other end asking for a travel agent. I hung up the phone.

The phone rang again. Same person asking for a travel agent. He was very irate and told me there was no chance he had gotten the phone number wrong.

One thing about me: when I lose my temper, I don’t usually yell or scream. I use my Sarcastic Voice. It is a very sweet, gentle voice in which I am capable of saying the nastiest things.

Out came my Sarcastic Voice. I pretended to transfer the call to a travel agent. He told he he was very unimpressed with our service and wanted to know when his flight left the next morning. I pretended to take down his name and contact information, then pretended to have trouble looking up the flight information.

“Oh, for Chrissakes- it is either 9:30 am or 10:30 am, which is it?” the irate man on the phone exploded at me.

In a split second, I calculated that if I said his flight was at 10:30 am, there was a 50% chance he would miss it completely.

“Your flight is at 10:30 am, sir,” I said,  hoping I was lying. He snarled at me. I hung up the phone, satisfied with my mild sabotage.

The next day, of course, everything changed. I was in my laboratory when I heard the news, saw internet footage of the planes flying into the Twin Towers. At first, I thought it was a movie. But the news reports kept coming, and coming. No movie, but reels and reels of horrifying footage, transmitted into my television set at home.

A few days later, I got another phone call. It was a man asking to talk to the travel agent he had spoken to on September 10, 2001. I told him I was alone in the house, a residential address, so if he had spoken to someone at this number, it had to have been me.

He apologized for his earlier rudeness, and told me that he had missed his plane in New York that morning, thanks to me.

Distractedly, I apologized. My mind was full of my upcoming move away from my now ex husband.

“No, no,” he said. “I was on flight, ” and I can’t recall the flight number now. “From New York to Los Angeles.”

“I’m sorry, I-”

“It was one of the planes that was hijacked on 9/11,” he said.

My jaw dropped.

He went on to thank me for saving his life.

“You have my information,” he said. “Look me up. Call if you ever need anything.”

To this day I don’t know who it was that had phoned me.  I hope he is well and happy. I decided to share this story not because I want to glorify myself or my actions- which were actually really mean-spirited- but because I felt it is important to remember that sometimes, the smallest things you do can have far-reaching consequences.