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I'm Glad It Wasn't You, Age 46

Recently retired from the California Department of Education, Andrew Laufer is writing a book about his life including periods as a butcher's helper, food service worker, construction laborer, animal research assistant, seasonal fire fighter, and janitor. In his youth, he hitch-hiked up and down the coast and out to Colorado numerous times providing context for hundreds of short stories.

December 7, 1941, the day Pearl Harbor was attacked by Japan, is the day that lives in infamy for my parents. September 11, 2001, the day terrorists brought down the Twin Towers, is the day that lives in infamy for my generation.

On both days thousands died and the lives of millions more were changed forever. I know exactly where I was when I heard about the first plane that struck the World Trade Center. I was in the garage packing the car for my usual commute to work.

My wife came to the garage door and said a plane had run into the tower. I thought it was a small two passenger plane that got too close. A moment later she returned to exclaim that another plane had crashed into the other tower. It was then I took notice and realized that terrorists had hit us hard.

I was questioning if I should go to work. Was Sacramento going to be attacked too? Should I be safe and stay home? No, I wouldn't allow the attack to deter me.

When I got to work there were probably about 30 of my co-workers in the conference room glued to the TV. Then I saw it; the first of the twin towers collapsed, live, on TV. I was aghast! So many people gone in one fell swoop.

Then the other tower collapsed. Oh no! Not again! It was horrible. It took all my strength not to break down and cry. I had to leave the room.

As things unfolded and the magnitude of the attack became more apparent, I began looking around the office at my co-workers. In the blink of an eye, they could all be gone. I was hit with a profound emotion whenever I saw someone that day. Each time, I thought, "I'm glad it wasn't you."














I'm glad it wasn't you, Jeremy, young intern, still in school and looking forward to a full life. I'm glad it wasn't you, Suzanna, my supervisor who did her best to do her job with the likes of me. I'm glad it wasn't you, Melissa, Angie, John, and Janice who have been working with me for years sometimes helping me out, sometimes being a pain in my ass. I'm glad it wasn't you, Allen, the janitor who kept my office clean.

I glad it wasn't the homeless lady who tried to sell me bananas in the mornings when I went outside for a break. Although I never knew her name, she was part of my life.

All these people, and so many more, were a significant part of my life. I'm so glad it wasn't them whose lives were snuffed out as quickly as a candle. I never realized how much all these people meant to me. That is, I never realized the love I had for the brothers and sisters I interacted with each day. It defines love of country. It still brings tears to my eyes when I think about the profound loss our country suffered. The attack on Nine-Eleven did not cower Americans, but it made us realize how much was at stake. I pray that we remain vigilant in our security here in the United States, so we can do our best to prevent something like this from happening again.

My heart goes out to those who lost co-workers in that attack and it especially grieves for those who lost a loved one. I couldn't imagine the pain if I lost a family member in an act of terrorism. Thank God that time makes the pain more tolerable.

~ Andrew Laufer


















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