There aren’t many days that I remember from start to finish but I definitely remember this one. Alright.
I was a 16 year old junior who went to Lawrence North High School. I also ran cross country in the Fall. My Dad took me to school in the mornings before he went off to work. I didn’t have my license yet but my raggedy 1990 Hyundai Excel was ready.
Students all over the city were taking ISTEP. I wasn’t. I passed it already. Usually, my Dad would drop me off around 7. Since I didn’t have to take it, I had him drop me off around 8. It’s not like missing the athletes study hall would’ve mattered. So…he drops me off in the back of LN. One of the doors used to almost always be unlocked. If not, someone would let me in. No biggie. Mr. Crousure saw me walking in and said…”Phelps! You can’t just walk in late like that!”
I shrugged…walked away like…”Whatever, Michael J. Fox.” That was my nickname for him. Mr. Crousure is a little dude and he was the wrestling coach. He’s now the Principal. I see you, little guy. All of the coaches looked out for each other’s athletes so…I wasn’t worried. He wasn’t going to do anything.
Anyways, I walk into the track study hall with a Lunchable. I liked the ones with ham and the Crunch bar and was ready to smash. They had us in the classrooms in the main gym across from the cafeteria. Mr. Potter, my track coach, didn’t say nothing to me. I’m good. So…I break out my Lunchable and here come the moochers. I swear…you could NOT break out anything edible in HS because everybody was always begging. Tristan Crayton tried to get some food off me. Nope. Maybe a cracker but nothing good. He was mad. “C’mon, Phelps.” No dude…
The girl’s basketball coach walks in and whispers something to Mr. Potter. He looks at her like…”Really!?” She gives him that face like…”Yeah. Really.” Mr. Potter turns the TV on…straight to NBC. There was a big hole in one of the WTC. Uh…damn. Katie Couric and Matt Laurer were on. I always enjoyed The Today Show more than the rest. Anyways, I couldn’t help but think that Katie Couric’s tan was awful. Oh yeah…and a plane running into the WTC was due to an awful pilot. Welp…that sucks. Turn it to ESPN please. I was over it. Didn’t think it was a big deal. Thought one of those small planes ran into it.
Eddie Cotner was sitting around me and freaking out. He was like…”No. You don’t understand! This is major! This is going to be in all of our history books!” And I’m just sitting there like…dude…someone is a bad pilot and they’re getting fired if they’re not dead. Turn it to ESPN. K. Thanks. Bye. *continues eating Lunchable* Once again, I was 16. I didn’t understand the magnitude of the situation.
Minutes later…BOOM. Another plane has hit the other WTC. Um…okay…what the hell? Are all of the planes falling out of the sky right now? Is this some sort of system failure? I’m sorry but I couldn’t fathom someone purposefully flying into buildings. For what?! Seriously? No ransom? No demands?
Minutes later…”There has been an explosion at the Pentagon.” Okay…we’re at war. By this time, Mr. Potter was in and out of the room talking to the other teachers about everything. Chris Madden was allowed to use the phone to call his parents because his Uncle worked at the Pentagon. His Uncle was safe. So…I get on the phone. I knew the extension to dial out so…didn’t need a teacher’s help. Ha. I call my girlfriend’s Mom and she had no idea what was going on. She ended up picking up my girlfriend, Jasmine Coe, from school. She went to Carmel. I was about to call my Mom, who was the Dean at Muncie Central…but Mr. Potter walked in and told me to get off the phone. Well ain’t that some BS.
I later found out that my Mom was running around her school helping it get locked down and their paranoid Principal had security guards out on the roof. Yeah…that’ll help. WTC 1. WTC 2. Pentagon. Muncie Central High School? -_-
Back to LN. So…we all sit there and watched. One of the towers fell right before the bell rang to continue normal classes. Pretty crazy to see Manhattan looking like a warzone. I remember people and reporters saying…”It looks like a movie but this is the real thing. This is real.” I didn’t feel much sadness though. I didn’t know anybody from NY. I was hype though. I wished I was there to help somebody. I wanted to see it all for myself. I also wanted to see if I could’ve outran the dust cloud. Something about major current events intrigue me.
I run upstairs to my science class…didn’t stand around the halls to talk to anybody. I wanted to witness history. I wanted to continue watching everything. The teacher didn’t even have the TV on. I told her that one of the towers fell. She didn’t believe me. She turns the TV on and says…”That’s crazy.” The bell rings. She turns the TV off and starts talking about igneous and metamorphic rocks. Are you serious? o_0
Welp…the school went on lockdown for the remainder of the day and there was no way I was going to get picked up by my parents considering that my Mom worked in Muncie and my Dad was a driver for UPS. A nuclear weapon would have to go off to prevent them from delivering.
I knew this girl named Sherena. She went to LC. Somehow, I reached her and her sister picked me up along with her. Cross country practice was cancelled. Everything was pretty much cancelled. Life stopped that day. I just remember waiting for her to pick me up and standing in the back of LN…looking up in the sky like…”Man. It’s a nice day outside. Can’t believe this all happened on such a nice day.”
On the way home, all of the gas stations had about a zillion cars sitting around trying to gas up. Gas was so cheap back then that I figured people were filling up to retreat to Canada or who knows where just in case. LOL. But whatever. My Dad came home slightly early and we just sat around all night talking about how crazy everything was and how many people we thought died…as we watched the rescue efforts. So many people were out there with fliers looking for people. Me and my Dad also talked about how the end of the World was coming…and later took all of our cars up to the gas station and filled up. This was the first day I ever drove a car by myself.
AOL was the thing to be on back then so I remember searching for AOL profiles with “WTC” in them. I saw a lot of people who worked there…sent them all messages asking if they were okay. I received no responses. None.
I didn’t do homework for the rest of the week. I thought the end was near. I wore a Starter jacket from the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. It looked like an American flag. I guess I was trying to be patriotic.
R.I.P. to all of the victims and prayers to all of those effected by 9/11. Crazy day. We will never forget.