The thing I remember most about 9/11 is how selfish I felt - at the very beginning.
September 11th was supposed to be the day I paid my debts and made some serious money. I clearly remember the last thing I said as my balding head hit the soft pillow on the 10th: "Tomorrow is going to be a great day, man, tomorrow is going to be a great day."
|Source: Anthony Grimley|
"I can sell a Yankees hat in Boston, or a Cowboys jersey in New York, surely I can sell a little coin over the phone?" I said, full of the optimism of the then-uninformed American sports fan.
My new boss didn't really care. I'd earn a bare stipend for a couple of months, and then work on one hundred percent commission, so it was no skin off his nose.
See, they call the big investors "whales," and it took five months of living off credit cards to reel two of them in for me. One lived in New York; the other was in Jersey. I arranged great deals with both retired men; deals that culminated on Monday the 10th, and happy as a pig in a blanket, I went for a few drinks with the boys, having promised my whales they'd receive all the official paperwork via fax before noon EST Tuesday.
That's the only reason I was up at 5:50 a.m. PST, but as soon as I saw the plane hit the second tower just after 6 a.m. my time, I knew the deals were done - and so was I. (I had no clue how bad it would be - did anyone?)
I wallowed in pity for about thirty-five minutes until I heard another plane had crashed into the Pentagon. Driving to work in my new, unpaid-for Mustang, I jumped up as far as my seatbelt would allow, and let out a scream of hurt and anger I hope my ears will never again endure.
As an immigrant with naturalization papers in process, I had no doubt that the attack was on my country (I swore in July 3, 2003,) and my people.
In October 2001, I tried joining the USAF, but the recruiter told me a 19-year-old's pay "ain't going to take care of the credit problems belonging to a 31-year-old."
So today, as always, I'll wear my then-new Liz Claiborne NYC skyline-themed shirt that I bought because the Statue of Liberty looks cool in the foreground. (It was only on the first anniversary of 9/11 that I "saw" the Twin Towers for the first time.)
I'll also reflect on how I awoke that day thinking only about me, but ended that evening thinking only about "U.S.," and the thousands whose lives had been destroyed by hate and fear.
May God bless the souls of all those lost on September 11, 2001, and Lord, please continue to protect those who, with a servant's heart, always run into harm's way while the rest of us scream just to get the hell out of there.
|Thomas J. Foley, 32, Rescue 3, FDNY, died in the collapse of Tower 2, WTC, New York, 9.59 am, 9/11/01. RIP|