I was in New York on 9/11.
I wasn’t at Ground Zero. I was in midtown, close enough to not know if we were safe but spared the trauma that so many endured in lower Manhattan.
I was just visiting NYC on another business trip. It was a RealNetworks press tour. We were announcing the new RealOne Player and service. Having built good relationships with the east coast tech journalists in NY, Boston and DC, I was sent out to sell our story.
Didn’t turn out that way.
We had been in NY for a day tweaking the presentation and rehearsing the pitch. That morning we took a town car (pre-Uber) to our first meeting. As we exited the elevator the front desk attendant told us a small plane had crashed into the Twin Towers.
Would we mind if he turned on the news in the conference room while we pulled out our equipment and prepared for the demo?
Sure we said, let’s see what happens.
We watched the second plane hit.
The crowd in our room grew as more staff members joined us. Most of them arrived unaware, still expecting a normal day.
I called my dad in Kentucky.
Everything’s fine. We are far away. No problems and yes I will be careful. Nothing in NYC can hurt your Kentucky boy Dad. Don’t worry. Call you soon.
A woman walked in to the room, realized what she was seeing and exclaimed “My sister works down there!” before running out.
I never knew if her sister was ok.
Other people started to leave, some heading for the elevators but most back to their desks or in the hall on their cell phones.
Finally someone turned to us, realizing we were guests in a newsroom that had a story to cover. There would be no demos today.
We went back down to the street. First responders headed south. Later we’d see the survivors walking zombie-like northward covered in dust and ash.
We stayed in NYC until the trains and planes began again.
Nobody ever really cared about those demos but all of us will remember that day.