Just like any other day. Got in a little after 6, walked from the bus stop
on Vesey Street, said hello to the guards—
one of those things. You didn’t know anybody’s name,
but you knew them by face, and you always
said good morning. They’d say good morning back. I’d ride the elevator up
from the ground to 44, transfer from 44 to 72, walk off to the 72nd floor, and first thing I would do
is go to the pantry and start a pot of coffee. And then I would walk
around the floor, start checking equipment. By the time I made my lap,
coffee would be ready. Grab a cup of coffee,
go back to my office, and start my day. I had been on the phone
with a friend of mine. It’s funny, I just remember
the conversation we were having. We both coached team sports, and our sons
played on the same team. I was the head coach.
He was the assistant coach. And we were talking
about the game. And he said to me,
“Bob, I’ll call you right back.” I said, “Okay, fine.” I went up.
I had to go make copies. And then while I
was making copies, there was this boom
and a vibration. And all I said to myself was,
“Not again.” Because it felt
the same way it did in ’93. I had enough time.
I went back to my office. I called my mother. She worked
at an office in Queens. I got her voicemail. So I told her—left a message. “Mom, something’s happened
at the Trade Center. “But don’t worry,
it’s the North Tower. It’s not my tower.” After I called my mom,
I called my wife. She’s at her office, and I asked her,
“Are you watching this?” She’s watching what? I mean, in ’93 not every office
had televisions. And I’m explaining to her
what’s going on. And while I’m on the phone
with her, there’s a sudden
swoosh-bang-boom. Three sounds and a violent ride, thrown forward and back
numerous times. Like I said,
I was in an office at first, watching from the north. The office that I had
was in the southeast corner. And the plane came in
on the southeast corner. I was on the 72nd floor, and the lowest point, I believe,
of the plane was 78. So it missed me by six flights. And after the floor
stopped shaking, I picked up the phone.
My wife had heard the explosion. She was screaming,
“What was that?” I told her I didn’t know.
Something exploded. She told me,
“Get the hell out of there.” My last words
to my wife would have been, “All right.
I’ll call you later.” As we’re walking out
onto the floor to enter the stairs,
I realize our receptionist had left a sweater behind. So now I’ve got a flashlight.
I’ve got water. How am I going to cover my face? I took my handy-dandy
Swiss Army knife out, and I cut the two sleeves off,
and we made turtlenecks. Kind of looked like Bazooka Joe
from the comics. Pulled them over our faces,
just enough. All set to tackle the floor—
tackle the stairs. Down the stairs we went. We met some people
along the way. Some people wanted our help.
Some people didn’t. Some people I sent help to. So there were people in there
that I kind of feel bad about, that I knew they didn’t leave, and I knew that I had helped
send help to them. And I know that the help
didn’t survive. One of the things I did
even on 9/11— I used a ploy when we met
the two women that needed help. The pregnant woman
always wanted to stop. I mean,
she’d do a floor and stop. I’d give her water. I took part
of the receptionist’s sweater, I’d soak it,
and I’d give her a little sponge bath
for her head, just to get her going. But geez, as soon
as we’d get one floor down, “I want to stop again.” And something from coaching— when the boys do their pushups,
I’d always tell them, “Give me one more.
If you can do 10, “try to give me 11. You can do this.” And she’d give me one floor,
and she’d want to stop. I’d say,
“Give me one more floor. “Then we’ll stop. “We’re not going to stop
every time you want to stop. We’ll never get out of here.” I do carry a piece
of the receptionist’s sweater every day. It’s in my wallet. Marilyn was her name. I even told her that—
I apologized. I said, “Do you remember that
sweater you left on the desk?” She goes, “Yeah.” I said,
“I cut it up and I used it.” I used a Swiss Army knife