Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Man Who Built The Truck For 9/11

As I've posted before, I was at LAX on September 11, 2001. I was getting ready to board a plane headed for St. Petersburg, Florida. My Dad had died in January of that year and I was trying to sell his two condos and dispose of all his personal items. My stepmother had died 3 years earlier but many of her things were still in one of the apartments. Plus they had a storage unit. It eventually took me until 2003 to unload it all. I told my mother to not ever die because if she thought I was going to fly to Paris and take 3 years to unload her 2 apartments plus the garage she owned, she could rethink that.

She agreed never to die. It wasn't so much a promise as a threat.

I watched on September 11 as a crowd gathered around a bar at LAX while the wounded World Trade Center still stood. A flight was called to its gate. People picked up their magazines, carry-ons and books and casually walked away from the lounge area. I thought they were all crazy. Didn't they see what was happening on TV?

There was a pregnant woman standing next to me and I told her we had to leave but she said she had nowhere to go. I suggested she get a hotel at the airport but she just stared at me. I stared back and then ran. I knew it was time to get the hell out of one of the major airports in the United States. And then Delta announced that all luggage was being returned. Their personnel flooded baggage claim. I remember a man found my bags in about 10 seconds. He threw them at my feet and said, "Now go."

Just so you know, a cab from LAX to wherever you live in LA is about a million dollars, maybe 2 if you have luggage. You either take a shuttle service or call a friend. I stood in the long line for cabs.

And I was one of the last taxis out before they shut LAX down.

I used to live in Manhattan. For 13 years. I'd had lunch at Windows On The World, the restaurant at the top of the World Trade Center, twice. Once you're a New Yorker, you're never anything else no matter where you live. It's a hard town to crack but if you manage, you wear the badge of *New Yorker* proudly. And I still did, even though I'd been gone for ten years.

On September 12 I called a high-ranking friend of mine in Washington and asked if Los Angeles had any reason to be alarmed. And if so I needed to know so I could grab my sister and our friends and get the hell out.

I received this message in return: "Beware the target an icon makes. And be careful."

Did she mean Disneyland? The Golden Gate? Or was it merely speculation from Washington? I'll never know. We've never discussed that message because it can't be discussed. Obviously.

I first heard of this truck last year. You might think I live in a cave if I'd never heard of something so large. And that tours the U.S. But I didn't. Mainly because I rarely open my cave windows.

The Rolling Memorial is painted with a mural intended to honor the victims of the 9/11 attacks. The whole story about the man who made it here.

And now, the truck:

(click on pictures to enlarge)

I read someone's blog where they dismissed people who mourned 9/11 as if it was their own personal tragedy, even though they'd not lost a friend or even lived in NY. Please.  9/11 is every American's personal tragedy. It's the world's personal tragedy because not just Americans were lost that day.

Because it changed the way we live.



  1. This is a great piece, Suzy Soro. You're right - entire systems changed after that day.The way we behave as a country in our responses to things like this changed. It did affect us all.

  2. I agree with all of it. I lived in NYC in Soho and could see the WTC from my apartment. I got engaged at Windows of the World. My brother worked on the top floors of the WTC for a long time.

    Even though I no longer lived there, it was and IS personal.

    We lost our innocence that day. It'll never be the same.

    Great post!

  3. I've never heard of the truck.

    Anyone who doesn't feel they own a piece of this somewhere inside, hasn't looked into their soul deeply enough. Or maybe at all.

  4. Anonymous7:30 PM

    I have been avoiding the television all day as there is no need to refresh the horrific images witnessed firsthand already burned in my mind's eye.
    I thought I would pour a glass of wine and visit your blog as you are always good for a laugh, my mistake.
    There is no escape and you are right, it has changed everything.
    I did however find comfort in your previous posts, a grin tickled my lips.
    X David

  5. Definitely the best post I've read about 9/11. Thank you.


  6. I'm Canadian. I sat that day at the TV with my toddler in my lap, 9 months pregnant..crying along with the rest of the world. My second beautiful girl was born 6 days later as I wondered what kind of a world I was bringing her into.

    I continue to be amazed and admire the strength of all the New Yorkers and survivors of 9/11. So many heroes died and survived that day.

    PS I must live in a cave too, I've never heard of that truck!

  7. I have never heard of this truck, but I can't wait to show it to my kids.

    Excellent post.

    And I can't even imagine the terror you felt at what could happen.

    That day: so hard for me.

    To see all that we did on the TV, I just cried.

  8. -->My friend Brian said it best on Facebook,
    After a full day of 9/11 grief-porn, what can we take away from all this? We should be nicer to one another, more than we're doing now. More hugs would also be a sound strategy. Make it happen, friends.

  9. I follow 9/11 happenings pretty closely. I had a friend on the 1st plane. And I live an hour outside NYC. I also, do not open my cave a lot. I prefer sweatpants.

    EVERYONE was touched by 9/11 in some way. I was so glad to see people care even if they didn't know someone.

  10. Your last point? similar to what I told my middle kid when he had to interview me for a 9/11 assignment. That my heart broke that day not only for the loss of life, but because I knew, in that moment, that my children's lives would never be the same. That their world would always be significantly different than mine as I grew up, even though I grew up with the threat of the Soviet Unioin, etc.

  11. It definitely changed the world--and because the world is such a small place it seems that almost everyone has at least a "six degrees of separation" connection which it makes the emotions even stronger.