As a flight attendant, once in awhile I still get asked, “Where were you on 9/11/01.”
I was working a transcontinental flight from JFK to LAX. I left JFK on September 9, 2001 and worked a dinner flight to LAX. I worked the trip with my friend, Gigi, from Brazil. We had a 21-hour layover in Westwood, just down the road from Beverly Hills.
We landed in LAX and arrived at our hotel on Wilshire. At the time I worked about six trips per month to LAX. The Westwood Memorial Park (cemetery) was a stone’s throw from our hotel and I would always take flight attendants into the cemetery to show them Marilyn Monroe’s crypt. This trip was no different.
I told Gigi about it and she was game for a little Westwood tour before going out to dinner. If I remember correctly, when we arrived, the gate was locked. It was after hours but we saw a groundskeeper. He came over and unlocked the gate and let us in. I said we wouldn’t be long and I bee-lined to Marilyn’s resting spot.
We left and went to dinner. While we were sitting at the table in the restaurant waiting for our meal, there was a small earthquake. The restaurant shook, we stared at each other, objects fell, and I remember something happening to the wall behind Gigi. It’s a little hazy now after 14 years, but people were definitely alarmed. The restaurant had to close immediately and we left.
When we walked out of the restaurant power lines were down on Wilshire. An old apartment building built in the late 1920s had quite a bit of damage. There were many broken windows everywhere we looked. We walked back to the hotel where we saw damage in the lobby; chunks of plaster had come off the ceiling and walls. When I walked back in my room, the earthquake story was plastered all over the news.
The following afternoon, I met my crew in the lobby. All the talk was about the earthquake. Gigi wasn’t there because she worked a different flight back to NYC.
So off we went to work our routine trip back to JFK. It was September 10th. By the time we took off from LAX, it was already about 7:00pm EST.
We landed at JFK a few minutes past midnight on September 11, 2001. The door to the aircraft opened and I was called out for random drug testing. I went to the medical office, got tested and left JFK at about 1:00AM. To avoid the very expensive Verrazano Bridge toll, I took the Williamsburg Bridge and cut through Manhattan to take the Holland Tunnel into NJ.
I got home at about 2:30AM and went to bed. At about 8:30AM the phone rang. I was asleep and John answered the phone. It was my brother. He said, “Where is Susan?” John said, “She’s in bed, she just got back from a trip.” My brother said, “Turn on the TV!”
The TV was located near the bed. I shot up out of bed like a bolt of lightening at the sight before my eyes. It was only a few hours prior when I last laid eyes on the Twin Towers.