2001: What the hell just happened?

posted by Jeff | Monday, December 31, 2001, 12:56 AM | comments: 0

Magazines and TV are all about retrospects this week. I honestly can't even believe that 2001 was real. It started out with so much promise. I met my goal of doubling my income in three years, I started coaching junior Olympic volleyball, I changed jobs and got away from a failing company, I bought a pinball machine and Steph and I bought our first house, a new one at that.

Summer was fun, spending a great deal of time at various amusement parks, even hitting the East Coast in August. Then September 11 rolled around. To this day it's hard for me to really absorb what happened that day. I was sitting in my little cubicle hell when one of the other IT guys told me a plane hit the World Trade Center. Of course, my first thought was that it was some little plane and a few dozen people may have died.

Within half an hour, I knew something more had happened, because anything on the Internet that might supply news was unreachable. So while I fumbled around, I got Greg, one of the moderators over on CoasterBuzz, on instant messenger. He was sitting in front of the TV, and provided the play-by-play. He bounced me over a URL to some site that had video of the second plane hitting the second tower. I had much of the office standing around me. None of us could believe what we saw.

I tried to hit the foreign news sites, but they too were crippled with traffic within an hour of the first attack. The sites I could get to were scaled back dramatically. No ads, few graphics, only the basics. Finally I got to the Washington Post, which apparently had some kind of backup plan, as their site was being handled by Akamai and distributed that way.

We all pretty much know what happened that day, so I won't go into it again. The scene at work wasn't business as usual, but it was business, and that bothered me. Steph was at the Museum of Natural History, and took the long way home because of the mass exodus from downtown Cleveland. I wanted to be home as well. If the shit really hit the fan, the last place I wanted to be was with an employer that I didn't care that much about. Those idiots could go on doing whatever, but I for one couldn't think about work.

I left a little before 3 p.m. On the way home I was listening to some ABC radio affiliate, where they were interviewing a bishop or cardinal, who was describing the way he gave some dying cop his last rights. I couldn't help crying. That was too much.

When I got home, the little pictures I saw on the Internet were magnified a hundred times with the images on TV. I'm a loyal ABC News viewer, so I didn't see the images of people jumping out of the buildings, but the destruction was enough. It was such a beautiful sunny day in Cleveland, and that made it even more surreal.

That night I built the server that CoasterBuzz is now running on, as the parts arrived that day. I remember that it was hard to focus on programming, so I didn't really do any of it.

In any case, my employer cancelled their big trade show, much to the dismay of the exhibitors and attendees, anxious to have something else to think about, and the company took a huge hit. Knowing that the morons had already let hundreds of thousands of dollars in invoices go unpaid from exhibitors, I knew the company was going to have a serious cash flow problem. A month and a half later, I was a victim of "restructuring."

I was really fucking pissed off. It wasn't really the attacks that pissed me off, it was the way the company was managed. The layoff could've been avoided, and it didn't help that I got to see all of the mismanagement first hand. Combine this with the fact I was assured when I was hired that layoffs weren't an issue (the reason I was looking in the first place) and my boss even indicated they intended to grant longevity or retainer bonuses to the IT staff. What a joke. After about a week, I tried to put it behind me and get moving forward.

The first step was to get CliqueSite in order. CliqueSite is the content management software that runs this very site. It's worth five digits to developers, and even more if I build sites for small to medium-sized companies. After three months of work on it, it's finally ready. Good thing, too, because the job market sucks. Now I have to play Mr. Salesman.

I don't think we can really relax yet, and I'm not sure if we ever will. However, it is clear that we need as much dumb shit to distract us as possible. I don't want to hear that "everything is gonna be OK," I want to hear that some religious freak is calling Britney Spears a whore and that Nicole Kidman ditched Tom Cruise because he's gay. It's pointless distractions like these, regardless of validity or importance, that make it easier to get around from day to day. I've got to get my ass off of unemployment and pay my mortgage. Do I really need to hear that some monster on the other side of the world wants to shove a plane full of anthrax up my ass? I think not.

On that note, be gone, 2001! May all of your insanity become a memory. It's time for healing, a new start and a better focus on our family, friends and personal liberties.

God bless our planet, and happy New Year!


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