NASMM didn’t even exist on 9/11. It was merely a twinkle in the eye of a few Senior Move Managers (as they called themselves later) who wouldn’t meet until the following year. At the 2012 NASMM Conference in Austin, TX this January, we will celebrate the 10-year anniversary of NASMM’s founding. So much has happened in the last ten years.
I live in Chicago, far away from New York, Pennsylvania and Washington/VA, where individuals and families experienced the 9/11 tragedy in profoundly up-close and personal ways. My own 9/11 memory actually occurred on Friday, 9/14. It was the National Day of Prayer and Remembrance. Around 7:30 pm, our 14-year old twin daughters asked if I could drive them to a friend’s home for the customary Friday night sleepover. Oh yeah and “Can Marissa and Colleen have a ride too?” Somehow, during the 10-block ride between our house and the sleepover house, I rear-ended a brand new Jeep. I was likely distracted by a lot of things, the least of which was four chatty teen girls packed into our Honda Accord. I remember J-Lo was on the radio.
I pulled over and got out of the car. A 50-ish man, dressed in polo and khakis, stepped out of the shiny new Jeep. We both examined the damage in the dusky twilight, and sure enough, there were scratches. A lot of them! Some dabs of my black paint were on his olive green bumper. Yikes, did I see a dent too? I began to retrieve my insurance card from the glove compartment, and he shook his head to say, “No, don’t worry about it.” He brushed his hand into the air, and said, “It’s just a car. We’ve all been through a lot this week. Forget it. It doesn’t matter.” Huh? What did you just say?
I insisted he take my insurance information, observing that his Jeep looked brand new. (I noticed his car had yellow temporary license plates.) He nodded and smiled, saying he’d just picked it up from the Jeep dealer earlier that week. But he wouldn’t hear of it. He told me to go and enjoy the evening with my daughters, motioning to the inside of my car. He said we’ve got to look out for each other, and take care of each other. We shook hands and walked into the night. I kept saying “Thank you so much!” until I closed the car door. I never saw him again.
The girls were strangely silent. I sat utterly motionless for a few minutes, staring straight ahead while my hands gripped the steering wheel. I was numb from watching hours of airplanes, smoke, sirens, and unimaginable sadness. I have never forgotten my stranger’s generous spirit that dark September evening ten years ago. A snapshot in time I will never forget.
More than we will never forget. We remember.
What’s your 9/11 story?