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One hour in Manhattan

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stabguy's picture
Honolulu, HI USA
Joined: 09/15/2009

Today is the 16th anniversary of the September 11 attacks. Here is something I wrote back then, later in September 2001:

I was fortunate enough to visit the World Trade Center once while it was still standing. A funny Nicaraguan electrical engineer named Enrique and I were on a business trip in New Jersey. We had a few hours to play with before our flight back to California. He wanted to see the Statue of Liberty and I wanted to see the World Trade Center. We parked the rental car on Staten Island and took the ferry to Manhattan. It goes right past the Statue of Liberty, so Enrique was able to get some pictures from the boat.

I calculated that we could only spend one hour in Manhattan and still catch our flight. We walked quickly up Broadway, past Wall Street, and into the lobby of the south tower of the World Trade Center.

Being in a hurry, we jumped on the first elevator that opened without reading any signs. A bunch of businessmen in black suits got in with us. It turned out to be an express elevator servicing only the lobby and floor 88. The elevator shot up 88 floors. As the elevator slowed down, Enrique jumped straight up, pretending that it had stopped suddenly and that he had become weightless. I laughed. The suits quietly avoided eye contact.

On the 88th floor, there was a hallway and some office doors. I looked for a connecting elevator to the top floor but couldn't find one. For some reason, there was a receptionist/security woman sitting at a desk in the hall. I asked how to get to the observation deck. She said something ungrammatical like, "Go down to one floor and take the blue elevator." I asked for a clarification, "Go down one floor to 87?" Again she said, "Go down to one floor..." It turned out that she meant the first floor. We didn't have time for that.

At the south end of the hallway, the office door to Ebasco was open and we could see light streaming in their lobby window. We went into their lobby and asked the receptionist if we could peek out their window. She was very gracious. As we passed behind her desk, I figured the polite thing for us to do was to remain quiet and inconspicuous. The window overlooked New York Harbor. Enrique came unglued, "WOW, LOOK AT THAT!".

[I was relieved to see that Ebasco was no longer a tenant in 2001.]

We got back on the express elevator. Just two buttons, "88" and "L". The black suits crowded in behind us. As the elevator doors closed, Enrique asked in a loud voice, "Can somebody press L for me?" I laughed. The suits avoided eye contact.

My childhood goal was to be an astronaut. I wanted to be the first man to stab somebody on the moon.