I’m sitting at McCarron airport, waiting for a flight to Denver. It’s September 11, 2011, the anniversary of the al Qaida terrorist attacks, and various ceremonies and retrospectives are in the news. President Obama is speaking at a memorial in New York; yesterday, President Bush and President Clinton spoke at the dedication of a memorial to the people on United Flight 93.
I read a couple of articles on the CNN site. One is about border crossings at Point Roberts, Washington, and I wonder how my former colleague, Dave Lee, is doing. Dave is a Canadian citizen, but he and his American Missus live in Point Bob. Another article talks about what’s changed for all of us who travel. Having just gone through airport security for the third time in less than a week, I nod in silent agreement.
I remember the morning, ten years ago, when my brother-in-law called us frantically, asking where I was. They heard the news in Taiwan, and knew I had been negotiating a contract for a job in New York, with the work to be done at the World Trade Center. We couldn’t agree on a rate, so I wasn’t in New York that day. I was home in Vancouver, Washington, asleep. Naturally, we got up and watched the coverage, and the images of a plane slamming into a tower remain seared in my memory. People dying, live, on television.
A few weeks later, I was on one of the first flights out of Portland, headed for California and a job interview. I had closed my little consulting company, Blue Ox Software, and decided to go back to letting someone else worry about making payroll. There were five passengers, three flight attendants, and the two pilots. We sat huddled together in the front two rows, talking about current events. I had driven under an overpass on the way to the airport, where a man stood waving a flag, and I had waved back. After the interview, I walked through a nearly empty Sacramento airport, and got on another nearly empty plane.
Ten years later, and I’m on the road again. I managed to sit in a corporate IT job for four and a half years, but I couldn’t stand it. I’m a road hog; a migrant computer worker. I’ve been doing this for over twenty five years, and it’s the only life I know, or want. My wife understands this, but she’s nervous about the anniversary. I told her, “If those people want something from me, they’re going to have to come and get it.”
Post script: the flight was competely full, as they usually are these days. On landing, the lead flight attendant finished her instructions with a request that we all take a moment today to think about the people who lost their lives on 9/11/2001. Sitting there, waiting for the door to open, I suspect we all did. And then we picked up our bags and left the plane sitting at the gate, waiting for the next load of passengers.