With my thanks to the Columbia Journalism Review. The magazine collects these great bloopers from subscribers and reporters. By the way, if you really want to see inside the news business, understand the challenges and ethical dilemmas, subscribe.
It has happened to me and perhaps to you, or a spouse, friend, or relative. It can mark one for a lifetime. I decided to put my feelings on paper...yes paper. Then the editorial board of my local daily newspaper, the Salt Lake Tribune, was kind enough to publish on paper, yes...paper and online, my thoughts.
My crossing guard, George, said, "they got us, in New York, in D.C., and who knows where else!"
George had assumed I already knew something. I didn't. I was dressed in my best with a dark briefcase, headed to make an important presentation to a group of attorneys.
Then George explained the rest.
What should I do? The world had stopped and asked if I wanted to get off. Well...I should...well...I don't know. When going into shock...stick to the schedule? I jumped in my car and turned on a news station in Salt Lake City. As I sped downtown towards my meeting at the top of a local skyscraper, I heard on the radio, "Senator, it sounds as if we are literally under attack!" said the morning commentator. Utah's senator responded, "we are!"
The World Seemed To Go On
I drove into the high-rise parking garage. I wondered if I was safe. I thought the same thing in the elevator. Hitting one of the top floors, I went to the reception desk of the law firm. An attorney greeted me and gestured toward the presentation room.
"Given what has happened, why don't we do this another day?" I said. He looked at me, puzzled. "No problem, let's do it now," and he gathered the others. I said, emphatically, "are you sure?" He was firm with his, "yes."
I slammed shut that part of my brain that registers fear, sadness, mourning. I gave the presentation of my life. I had to. It was the only way to stop thinking about the unthinkable.
Presentation over...the lawyers quietly thanked me and I was out the door. Not one mention of what had happened in New York. I have great respect for many lawyers...but I will never understand them.
The World Wasn't Going On
Rushing back to my car, I noticed the deadly calm in Salt Lake City. No busy streets, just one woman wandering aimlessly through a not-yet-open downtown mall. No expression on her face. It was stone cold.
That night in front of the TV, my husband blew up. "I don't want to see yet another repeat video of those plane crashes anymore! Can you imagine what this is doing to the families of those who were killed?"
The Halftime of a Lifetime
Months later on Superbowl Sunday. Bono of U2 screamed out a song as the names of those killed were beamed in tribute onto a giant high-tech scroll in the background. I wept with a depth I'd never experienced at any funeral, with any death or any tragedy. At the end of his tribute, he screamed just one word to the crowd: "America!" He slowly opened his leather jacket, which was lined with an American flag.