At work. When the first plane hit, I really thought it was an airliner that had somehow gone off course. I was really interested, in watching if the building could withstand the hit. I was really amazed when it did not. I had spent some time doing emergency preparedness plans for several organizations. The basic beleif was that almost no mater what happened the building would stand. In those planning sessions we never even planed for a building collapse. It just really does not happen. In my way of thinking the OK City bombing was the abnormal ting and I can remember many people just believing we had seen the worse and it would never happen again.
When the WTC was struck I just never ever thought it would collapse. the idea was of course that we would always have time to evacuate the majority of the people from the building. Please understand I was in the SF world Series Earthquake. I was located on the 18th floor of the Holiday Inn in the financial district. In that case the building certainly swayed and cracked, but it held. I knwo this was not the same, but it reinforced my professional belief about modern office buildings.
When the building collapsed, i oculd not beleive it. I realized that the world had just changed and changed in remarkable ways. We could no longer assume the majority of people woudl be ok in almost all situations. It changed the paradigm of my profession. It is like being told that red is really white. It shakes the foundation of what you thought you knew.
I had recently dined at the top of the world restaurant at WTC. For epple who never had that experience, it was magnificent. my thought was for the young man who waited on my table that day. I wondered if Ray made it out or if he was working. It certainly changed my paradigm. Assumptions, gone. Uncertainty, the new paradigm.