There has been a lot of talk on social media about “where you were on 9/11”.
On 11th September 2001 (to give it the correct date), I was in Satu Mare, at the north-west corner of Rumania. We were about two hours ahead of most of Europe and therefore in time zones about nine hours before the USA
After work I walked from the factory to my hotel and turned on the TV. The only English language programme was CNN news, and I was just in time to see the second aircraft strike the World Trade Center buildings.
Shocked, I called home. Sure enough, everyone was glued to the TV, although it was mid-afternoon in the UK. I watched CNN for the rest of the evening, despite the affliction of the soviet era combined hot water/heating system that could not be adjusted, except by hanging one’s head out of the window for temporary relief.
Very soon I received the company-wide “no-fly” instruction.
I was now stranded in a town that felt like something from the late 1950s, with just two flights per week to Budapest in Hungary and a similar train service via Ukraine to Budapest. I had “enjoyed” during the previous week the same greasy lamb stew every day in the Managers’ dining room. I had observed that even senior managers were paid weekly, in cash. My hotel wanted cash payment rather than the company-preferred Amex.
My Irish colleague and I started to search for alternative ways home, probably via train.
Fortunately after two days the flight ban was lifted. Just in time for the local flight to Budapest. At the local airport they had moved the security scanning equipment into the entrance lobby/car park area. They clearly had no idea what to do. My Psion organiser was temporarily confiscated as “computer equipment”, but my laptop computer passed without comment. The chap before me had his nail clippers taken away, but in the duty-free shop aferwards one could buy a Swiss Army Knife.
And so, our travel passed without any major incident, but with a few bizarre situations.
As it turned out, this was so much easier than the problems caused by the eruption of the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull, when I was stranded in Wrotslaw, Poland and booked to be in Italy four days later. But that’s another, and much longer, story.