Monday, September 12, 2011

Not Forgotten

I got this wonderful comment on my blog yesterday.
Jay, I just wanted to say 'thank you'. On 9/11, and for many days after, you and I were both stranded at the Hartford Airport hotel. Evacuated by M-16 wielding National Guardsmen and taken by van to another hotel and then back again to Hartford. We saw each other each day, talked while we ate at the bar, walked around to try and ease the monotony, spoke to people about their circumstances and tried to figure out ways to get 'home'. Or, in your case, to a gig in Utah, if I remember correctly. It was comforting to have a 'familiar' face during those difficult days. You were so humble and friendly. It made the 3000 mile separation from my family a bit more bearable. I'm always proud to say 'I was stranded during 9/11 with Jay Johnson'. 
 This brought it all back to memory like a movie re-run - that 9/11 week at the Hartford Airport Hotel. The airport was closed and there were several flight crews for different airlines stranded with all of us. I remember this young lady very well. She had small kids at home. Her husband expected her to be gone only a day or two. She was even attending the same conference that I was performing for. Her husband was dealing with the kids. She and I were dealing with how the world had just changed. It is perhaps a bonding moment when armed National Guardsmen escorted us from the hotel. This was the closest airport to Boston Logan/departure point of the hijacked planes. There was a rumor on the news of the hijackers using Hartford as a staging area for other strikes. They evacuated us by van to a downtown hotel, searched all the rooms and moved all the parked cars away from the terminal before they would let us come back.
This lovely lady and I were stranded across the country from our families and air travel suddenly stopped. At one point we discussed renting a car and driving for three days. There were no rental cars....all of it came back to me.... except her name, and she didn't sign her comment.

While everyone concentrates on the actual day of 9/11,  the horror and complete helplessness of that day extended through the week that followed. Until the air planes flew once more thousands of people like us were stranded away from home and loved ones. It was a week of fear and uncertainty.
While all of this was happening I didn't know: had I performed my show when it was originally contracted, I would have occupied seat 4F on American Airlines Flight 11. I had a first class seat on the plane that hit the first tower. That as my seat until a week before Sept.11. The insurance company moved my performance forward a day. Sept 11 was my performance day and not my travel day.   It was so insignificant at the time. I never knew why they changed it last minute.

My Airport friend, thank YOU very much. You made a very unique experience less frightening. We really did get through it together. I'll never forget.... except your name damn it.
As it was,

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Stephanie Fischer (, your Airport friend. If you're ever in the San Francisco Bay Area performing, please let me know. I missed your show at the conference on 9/11 :-)