• mrbenja1

I Went To Work When 9/11 Happened

(This is to the best of my recollection. I’ve never put these thoughts into words until now. If you were there at 3DO and have more to add or suggest, let me know. Also, I might update it slightly if things don’t read properly. Thanks.)

It was the morning of September 11, 2001. I woke up one morning to get ready to make games for 3DO like I had done for the past year or so. I turned on the news while I got ready for work. At the time, it was part of my daily routine to hear the daily bustle of the world. The content really didn’t matter, and I didn’t ever really listen to what was being said. It was a form of white noise to get me ready for the day. So as usual, I walked into the living room and switched on the television before tossing the remote on the couch and returning to my room.

While I was putting on my clothes in the bedroom, I heard serious talking coming from down the hallway. Something major was happening. I can’t remember what words prompted me, but the thought in my head was, “Oh shit…something major is happening.” I scurried back into the living room and picked up the remote. I wanted to hear everything.

I saw a building on fire. It was one of the Twin Towers. I didn’t know much about the Trade Center at the time, but I had heard of it. I never expected it to be shown like this. My heartbeat quickened.

My friend Hunter called. We were both wondering what the hell was happening. It wasn’t clear. We were both a bit shocked. For me, I was living the rookie programmer life in Silicon Valley where everything was rosy, and my thoughts were pretty insulated from something so tragic and so real. I don’t remember what we said, but we didn’t talk long. The conversation was basically, “Holy crap. Ho-leee crap. Are you going to work? I guess so? See ya.” We hung up. I watched the news a little longer before grabbing my keys and heading out the door.

I didn’t actually want to go to work, but I didn’t want to sit at home and watch those buildings burn either. I hadn’t lived in the city for very long, and staying at home would have just made me feel lonely (which is not a feeling I’m usually worried about). I needed the crowd right then. Besides, it was also a very short commute and the routine felt reassuring. The short jaunt on the highway made everything feel normal for about ten minutes. I didn’t turn on the radio or play music though. This time, I rolled down the window and listened to the city and traffic. It was the same drive I’d taken every other day: same blind turn out the parking lot, same weather, same trees, same taco shop, same underpass, same winding road, same waterfront, same office park, but it all felt different. I think part of me expected chaos to break out in Redwood City. I looked at every gleaming office building that passed a curious expectation of something being different.

When I made it to work, it was as expected. Everyone was standing in clumps reacting to what happened. There was fear, anger, confusion, and every range of emotion going on. There were also people that went straight to their work like nothing (or everything) had happened. I said some things to some people but I don’t remember what it was. I called my parents. It felt like I was sitting at home with them around the dining room table sharing thoughts about our roles as Americans. Their sentiment was along the lines of…”Remember this. It’s happening.” We ended the call and promised to speak again later that day. They were calling all the other family members as they were apt to do.

Whatever we were doing in the office, it was short-lived. Management soon called everyone down to the cafeteria to briefly discuss what had happened and to announce that we were all expected to go home.

Well…we were all there trying to create games to make people happy, and it was one of the most surreal days in memory. Nothing had sunk in yet and nothing would until the full story started playing out on TV and on the Internet. After that day, things changed for me. I wasn’t just some kid making games and living out life in Silicon Valley, I was a player in a world with many different forms of angels and demons. The context was forever altered.

I went to work when 9/11 happened.

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© 2021 - Benjamin Johnson aka Mr Benja

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