September 11th: 45 minutes that changed my life

I am sure that everyone on the planet remembers where they were and what they did the morning of September 11th, 2001.  We couldn’t believe what we were seeing and felt helpless standing in front of a television wondering what happened.  The rules had changed!  War was not being fought in a battlefield with two parties wearing distinctive clothing.

I remember clearly that morning and like so many others, it completely changed my life.

On that day, I was the National Sales Manager of an apparel company on a business trip in Calgary getting ready to head to Vancouver for a Regional Sales Meeting.  At 7am (9am New York time) I was greeted at the elevator by a hotel clerk who asked me if I had watched TV that morning.  I said no as I proudly explained that I had gone to the gym and was now heading to the airport.

She started trying to explain that there had been an attack on New York.  I asked: “by whom?” she replied: ”we don’t know”.

Screams were then heard from the breakfast area as everyone stared in disbelief when the second plane crashed in the Twin Towers.

Five minutes later I was back in my room and calling my Head Office and Regional Manager of Western-Canada to discuss our plans for that day as over 20 of our employees were supposed to get on a plane and were very much afraid.

By 7:30 am (9:30 NY time) I had made the call to cancel the meeting and have everyone stay at home. At 7:35 my VP of sales and marketing was calling me to say that “I was blowing things out of proportion and everyone had to go to that meeting”.  To this day I wonder if she had purposely chosen those words.

At 7:37 the third plane went down.

In sheer despair, I called my husband and parents for comfort and asked them what I should do.  My husband at that time was unemployed and I was told that I should not put myself in a position where I could lose my job.

Thankfully at 7:45 the United-States and Canada shut down their airspace.

I spent the rest of the morning with everyone else in the hotel lobby glued to the television as no one wanted to be alone.  I then decided to go out for a walk and found a quilt shop in a strip mall across the street.

That’s when I decided to take more time for me.  I was stuck in Calgary for 5 days and made a daily tour of the shop and picked some projects to make once I got home.

After five days, I managed to get in a flight to Toronto and my husband drove the 7 hours to come and pick me up and take me home to Montreal.

Our career oriented lives changed on that drive back home.  How could we have allowed a company to force me and 20 other employees to take a plane when we felt it was just wrong? How could we?

I literary changed my perspective on life that day.

We started a family and I got into quilting.

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