Sunday, December 02, 2001

September 11 - My own Personal Nightmare

By Mary Arnold,
Financial Consultant

You know for years to come, people will be asking where you were on September 11, 2001. It will be the topic of cocktail parties, first dates, and all kinds of ice breaker activities. Everyone will have a story. Some will recount how they sat glued to their television and watched events unfold, while others will reminisce about their own first hand traumatic experience.

Unlike many across the nation I did not have the luxury of being at home on that fateful day. I was not safe and secure at home watching my television. I was at work in the USX Tower, the first building to be evacuated in the city of Pittsburgh. It was terrifying at first because we didn't know what was happening, but little did I know how eerily distressing this experience would be.

Once I got in my car, I started to head to the parkway to get to my Forest Hills home. I turned on KDKA radio to get updates on unfolding events, when I heard that fateful announcement which would forever change my life: the Squirrel Hill Tunnels were closed. I would have to go through Wilkinsburg to get home.

And that's when my ride of terror began.

I turned off Fifth Avenue onto Penn Avenue and my hands started to tremble. I would have to pass that McDonald's where Ronald Taylor killed three people nearly two years ago.

But Mary has a resolve of steel. I took a deep breath, shut my eyes, and before I knew it, I made it! I was under the railroad bridge and past the McDonald's. Whew!

But my nightmare wasn't quite over yet. Wouldn't you know it, but at the next light I ran into some terrible misfortune...a red light! I started to panic but then I remembered my grandmother's advice, "lock the doors if you ever ride through a bad neighborhood." So I did. And just in time too. Three men had assembled on the corner by a PNC bank and were staring directly in my car. This might have been my last moment on Earth.

Luckily, someone, or something was on my side as the light turned green, I made it!

Or so I thought.

Sure enough, three blocks later down the street in front of the Rally's, wouldn't you know it, my second red light.

Of all the luck.

So I got out my rosary beads and said a couple "Hail Marys." Would this be the last time I saw blue sky from below? I wondered and decided to put it in God's hands, and He must have been listening because sure enough, the light miraculously turned green.

I was really through this time. Thank God. Smooth sailing, 1/2 mile later I was on the Parkway, and then before I knew it, I was home. But not without my battle scars.

September 11th is definitely a day I will not forget anytime soon.

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