Sunday, September 11, 2011


*Please forgive my lack of punctuation The key stopped working again and I can't afford to have it fixed just yet*

We all have our stories, where we were when we first heard about the planes crashing, how we felt when we learned the buildings were collapsing, the senses, the emotions that bombarded us It was nearly impossible to grasp the reality of the day, of the chaos, and I say this as person who has never been to New York or the Pentagon, who didn't experience the terror first-hand But it affected me that day, and continues to- to the point that the coverage on TV this morning had me in tears and unable to eat

On September 11, 2001 I was managing the Starbucks in Downtown Wheaton, IL I don't remember who I opened with that morning, and it began like any other open- brew the coffee, prime the bar, put cash in the registers We always opened ten minutes early It's actually policy to open ten minutes early, but at Downtown Wheaton we really did it because Mark the Barber from next door needed his drink before he opened shop Our next customers were always two guys who worked at the Sears Tower I can't remember if they were the ones that told us the news that there had been a plane crash At first, we didn't think anything of it I mean, we thought, Oh God, that's horrible, but news began to trickle in quickly that it had crashed into the Twin Towers There was speculation it was intentional Then we learned it was two planes, both towers had been hit

I turned off the music streaming in our store and turned a radio on to WGN, placed it on the bar and we huddled and listened to the reports It was so quiet that morning, no talking or laughing as usual, no hustle or bustle of trying to get drinks out Customers ordered in whispers, we filled their orders in silence It was the one and only time I worked in that store where it ceased to feel like a Starbucks I can't find the words to describe what it felt like, something like a church, like a funeral, like a bomb shelter People passed around the information they'd heard in their cars on the drive over, what they'd seen on the news before they'd left their houses Those driving to work stayed a little longer than usual Those who commuted left to get on their trains, uncertain what they'd experience once they got to the Loop, if the Sears Tower would be hit, if there were bombs planted at the Merc, at the CBOT

My district manager called me at a point in the morning to tell me that Starbucks had decided to close all their stores I was to keep one volunteer to help me shut down, and we were to go home to our families as soon as we'd managed to clean things up My barista and friend Sarah chose to stay with me It was the longest close I'd ever had, did ever have Not because we were in the middle of the morning rush, but because by that point we'd learned the extent of the attacks and could barely see through our tears to clean Two hours later, Sarah and I hugged, and I walked down the street to where my husband was working selling cell phones and pagers No one came in and it was just fine because we were like zombies watching the news, the devastation

I was pregnant with my first child My good friend Carrie was in the hospital recovering from her C-section the day before, both of us left wondering what kind of a world we were bringing children into, a world where ideological differences leads to dehumanization, where lives are lost and it's seen as a triumph

That day was such a tragedy

But I see tragedy in every day, and I don't say this to in any way diminish the suffering that was experienced on 9/11, or that has resulted from that day, because it was- is- ungodly But it is a tragedy when we pretend the horrific drought that is affecting the people in the Horn of Africa doesn't affect us too It is a tragedy when we walk past the homeless man because his clothes are dirty and he smells awful A tragedy when our neighbor's home is foreclosed on and we thank God that we can still pay our mortgage

Perhaps the greatest thing that came out September 11, 2001 was the unity it inspired in so many We held each other, comforted each other Donated money, blood, sent our fire men and women to New York to help in any way they could We showed a rich compassion as a people I cry more over this than the loss of life, am struck by the beauty we have inside us

We just need to embrace it and live it every day

Listening to: Matt Pond PA

xo kb

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