I was at work at the National Institites of health in Bethesda, right outside of Washington DC...one of the doctors on our floor emailed everybody & said "go to this link" and it was CNN's page where they had a photo of the first tower in flames. A co worker turned on the radio & we heard about the 2nd tower and the crash at the pentagon AND there were people calling in the radio with all kinds of crazy rumors about bombs at the state department and the FBI building and nobody really knew what was going on. I called home several times trying to wake up Judy who always sleeps thru the phone & left all these crazy messages like "get the fuck up & turn on the TV - all hell's breaking loose" - eventually she woke up & did so & said I sounded like WWIII had started.
Then they abruptly shut down the government & told everybody to leave - nobody knew quite what to do and were weirded out that we had no instructions and afraid NIH could be a likely target.
I got on the Metro train as I figured it would be the fastest way out towards where i lived (I'd taken a commuter bus in that wouldn't be running until the afternoon) even tho I was scared that the train might be a target too. I got on the metro & it was packed with people leaving DC, several of whom had been in buildings facing the pentagon and had seen the plane hit there and were in total shock.
I'll never as long as I live forget the one woman sitting on the floor slowly rocking back & forth looking completely catatonic. Everybody was very scared, people had just abandoned their cars in DC & jumped on the train to get out of there as fast as possible.
We got to Shady Grove station & I found Paula coming home from her job so that made me feel a lot better.
The weirdest part was seeing the people who had no idea what was going on entering the station about to go to a meeting downtown & wondering why it was so crowded & everybody was so freaked out. I told a couple "go back, don't go downtown - the whole city is closed, I'm sure your meeting is cancelled".
Got a bus home from the station, saw Pete the xerox room guy fromw ork on the bus & somehow that made me feel better too. Went home & was sucked into nonstop CNN... later went out to the store & did strange things like buy a big black forest cake & refill a prescription of painkillers, I guess it was my wierd way of being prepared for the worst.
What freaked me the most was before I got the job at NIH I had turned one down at the Pentagon because I preferred the idea of working at NIH to help people than being with warmongers. I just kept thinking that could have been me. I also used to live in NYC so I also felt a connection there. Two friends of mine lived close to that area & quickly figured the air was toxic & rented a van & put all their belongings in it & just left - they didn't know where to go but knew they had to get out...eventually they settled in Seattle. But they freaked me when they called & they were leaving & wanted to give me the paswords to edit their bands web site "just in case".
I definitely had some semblance off post tramatic stress disorder afterwards. With National airport shut down many flight paths got rerouted over my apartment & I'd be lying in bed drifting off to sleep and when I'd hear a plane I'd jump. I'd get horrible chills down my spine driving by the pentagon with the huge gaping hole in it.
Yesterday was weird...I flew cross country from BWI to LAX, I left extra early to get to BWI figuring there might be extra security but the place was nearly empty. usually southwest's flights are all full but this one was less than half full, most people got their own rows and in walking to the back of the plane to use the bathroom I noticed a lot of people reading the bible which seemed pretty odd. (Usually its the Da Vinci Code). Thankfully all was uneventful.