Wednesday, August 24, 2011

After the Fall (copy)

Back in the 90s, I used to go to the coast with my girlfriends each summer. We were a fun group of air traffic controller wives who liked to tan, shop and dance. In the beginning, all we could afford was a drive to the coast, but later we began to fly to Clearwater Beach, Florida.

The year was 1996 or 1997. Lots of water has been under the Clearwater Bridge since then, but there is one thing I remember that still haunts me. On a trip to Ybor City for dinner and dancing it happened. Ybor City is like Beale Street where visitors walk from bar to bar in a party atmosphere with no traffic.

The drive was 45 minutes from our hotel and there were nine of us. We rented a taxi van for the night. Nothing memorable so far, but hold on. We all piled in chatting about all kinds of things when one of our most outgoing girls who sat shotgun began to flirt with the driver.

He was a young, good-looking Middle Eastern who was a tad hard to understand. Our front seat talker was very Southern in speech and their conversation was becoming comical when he asked if we were all married. With a huge yes reply, he began to tell us we look like “ladies of the evening” (my words, his started with a “W”) and that our husbands should be ashamed.

As you can imagine, we were slightly shocked hearing this from someone who expected a tip. I tore into him. Not only was I an air traffic controller wife, I used to worked there! With 300 men and about 30 women at the Memphis Enroute Control Center, I was well versed in the machismo mentality and began to pummel him with question after question.

We were dropped off at the entrance and he parked and waited for our return. With a good solid five hours of fun and libations, I entered the van ready for round two. After 15 minutes, I knew I had him. His frustration over flowed and he said, “You will be sorry; America will pay for its misdeeds. The World will know come nine-one-one.”

Of course, I had no idea what he was talking about and looked confused. “Come September 11, America will be taught a lesson. All Americans will be dialing nine-one-one.”

Can you believe it has been 10 years since 9/11? There are three new books filled with memories of that horrible day and its aftermath: After the Fall edited by Clark, Bearman, Ellis, and Smith, A Decade of Hope by Dennis and Dierdre Smith, and Until the Fires Stopped Burning by Charles Strozier.


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