Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Atlanta - September 11th, 2001

That's where I was when the shit hit the fan. Thousands of miles from home, working a booth at a trade show. I was with a customer demonstrating how my software would help him manage his network when a couple of the folks who were working the booth with me starting gasping and staring at their computer screens. That's how it started. As the events of the day progressed, the convention center was shut down around 2:00 and we were told to go back to the hotel to await further instructions. My fellow engineer, Rich, and I had had no lunch and were ready to find something to eat. As we left the hotel the first thing we noticed was that the city looked like a ghost town, no cars, no people and most of the stores and restaurants closed down. We finally found a mid-sized pizza house that was still open and were seated in a booth. It was about half full of patrons. Our waiter, visibly shaken and high on something more than booze and weed, came to the table to take our order. The busboy brought some water and we waited patiently for our lunch, understanding that this was a difficult time for everyone and top level service was not expected. About 45 minutes later, we had still not seen our lunches and I snagged the waiter as he floated by. I asked him how much longer it would be before our lunch would be ready. He paused for a minute, checked his backlog of orders and apologetically told us he had forgotten to place our order. Without malice, I stood and asked him where his order entry station was and had him walk me to it. Then I had him show me how to put our orders into the system. After that I had him walk me to the kitchen where I checked with the chef to make sure our order had arrived. It had. Ten minutes later, the owner of the restaurant came to our table with our pizzas, (delicious brick oven) and beverages. He apologized profusely and told us it was on the house. We told him that we understood that this was a difficult time for everybody but he would have none of it and we ate for free that day.

After lunch, as we exited the restaurant which was located on Peach Street - the main street in Atlanta - I was struck by the surrealistic silence in what should have been a noisy, busy city. Still no cars and few pedestrians. We walked back to our hotel without speaking, each lost in our own thoughts about what had just happened in New York and speculating on what was going to happen next.


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