Humorless Nine-Eleven Cartoon Adventure
My September 11th story begins at SeaTac Airport while under the employment of Horizon Air. I was what they call a ramper, which is a grueling life of packing and unpacking the cramped space inside the guts of an airplane (you’ve likely seen us zipping around on those little tractors by the feet of grounded planes like those little cleaning birds on a stationary rhinoceros). It was honest work, plus you got to pick your shifts. I would always pick ‘vacation relief’ because you always got to do something different. One week you’d be slinging bags, the next week you’d be put on the mail run (sweet gig if you can get it), other times you’d get suck on the belt down in the bowels of the airport which is crappy during the commercial fishing season.
So then 9-11 happens.
At first we hear of a plane crash in New York… I remember that we didn’t know what was happening. I remember listening to a tiny radio one of the guys brought into the break room. I would catch bits between working the planes. When the second plane hit we knew it was a terrorist attack. Didn’t think it could get any worse until they described both towers falling.
Soon after the supervisors called us all together in the break room. the gist of the speech was: “Today terrorists decided to use our own planes as bombs in an attack on America. The president has ordered all air traffic grounded until further notice. We’re going to unload all planes and make room for more as they come in.”
SeaTac was now a giant parking lot for all nearby airtraffic. We pushed the planes together as close as we could to optimize space. By the end of the day the place was spooky quiet.
I remember being assigned to assist our supervisor to inspect the empty planes sealing the cabin door with holographic ‘security’ tape… the idea being if the tape is broken you’d know if somebody tampered with the plane.
Throughout the week you began to see flags appearing all over the place. The newspaper printed flag tip-ins, cars stuck flags on their antennas, flags taped everywhere! Some flags even smelled like plastic shower curtains. My dancer/model friend Anna wanted to know where my car flag was. She was being very serious.
luckily my mom sent me a little flag window clingy in the mail a couple days later.
It was a nice USA/Alaska flag combo design. I still have it in my window, though all the red ink has been bleached out by the sun.