Those who worked in the World Trade Center on the morning of September 11, 2001 shared many amazing stories; some never making it into the buildings because they were running late, felt ill, or just had a day off. Others miraculously survived and lived to tell their story.
My former co-worker Andrew and I barely escaped before the second plane hit. We were of thousands who walked for miles and tried to figure a way to escape the chaos.
After treading on foot for what seemed like in eternity, we hobbled to 35th Street and 3rd Avenue, in Midtown Manhattan. I was desperate to reunite with my family. I felt stranded. Taxi drivers sped through the streets past hundreds of pedestrians, relentlessly running up to them, attempting to get a ride. Discouraged, I thought, “I’m never getting home.” Andrew turned to me and said, “The ferry that I take to go home is right up the block. Did you want me to stay with you until you get a cab?” I said, “No, you need to go.”
As we hugged, Andrew pointed to an empty taxi that pulled up alongside us. We said our goodbyes and I quickly climbed in. People were still scrambling for cabs, yet no one even glanced at this one.
I climbed into the car and immediately noticed something very odd – it was immaculate. The seats smelled like newly finished leather; the windows were sparkling. “This is definitely odd,” I mumbled.
The driver smiled as he looked through his rear view mirror. “Hello, Miss, how are you? You know, you’re my first customer today.”
Although I was bit taken back as to how he could be smiling at a time like this, and how I could be his first customer that day, immediately I became irritated. “I could be better,” I hissed, as I tried to wipe off the soot from my hair and clothes. “I don’t have any money. Can you help me?” I asked, my voice cracking.
“Not a problem Miss. Where do you live?”
“Astoria – in Queens,” I said, trembling and still somewhat irritated at his obviously calm demeanor.
“I live there too. I’ll take you. No charge.”
As the driver pulled away, I took my cell phone from my purse to see if there was a signal. All service was disrupted due to the collapse of the Towers. Nothing. I started to become anxious, moving from one side of the car to the other. My mind became flooded with thoughts – were my friends, who also came into work that morning, alive? Did they make it out in time? Did my mother, who worked near City Hall and was just blocks away from the Towers, know I was ok? My anxiety worsened while I frantically started pressing the buttons on my phone in hopes of finding a signal. Then I heard the driver’s faint voice through the glass:
“Miss, everything will be fine. Everything will be fine,” It was as if he could read my thoughts and feelings at that very moment. He began speaking of the glory of God, and how I needed to believe that my life had a purpose – and not to give up, whatever happens. I didn’t know what to say; I sat in silence, staring blankly out the window.
At around 3:15pm we approached the 59th Bridge, which connects Manhattan to Queens. Bumper to bumper traffic was not uncommon, even during off-peak hours. Strangely, we drove right through, not hitting any traffic ahead. In fact, there were no cars to be seen. When we approached the end of the bridge, my cell phone beeped. “A signal!” I grabbed the phone and checked through over a dozen voicemail messages from friends and loved ones. I began to weep.
“Miss, please don’t worry. Everything will be fine. You’ll be home soon.” He said.
We were now off the bridge onto the street. I leaned in to give the driver the directions to go home. Before I could mouth the words he knew exactly where to go, and before I knew it we were approaching my house.
As we pulled up, I leaned in towards the glass once again. “Thank you, sir. Thank you so much for taking me home. How can I repay you?” My voice cracked. He replied, “Just take care of yourself and have faith in our Father. He’ll take care of you, too.”
When climbing out of the cab, I glanced at his taxi driver’s license, which was attached to the back of his seat. The date the license was issued September 11, 2001.
I now realize that angels led me out of the Tower and brought me home safely to my family. On the darkest, most horrific day of my life, God was with me, as well as my Angels.