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"It Was Like Watching Television"

November 2001
NEW YORK—A generation of Americans will remember where they were on the fateful morning of September 11, 2001, a day in which hatred lay two glorious New York buildings in ruins and burned a swath into a Washington landmark, costing thousands of people their lives.

For Tim Plumer Jr., business development manager for ePaper solutions at Adobe Systems, the day began uneventfully. He had scheduled a meeting to showcase Adobe Acrobat for Viacom at 42nd and Broadway, and was preparing a visual presentation when someone entered the room and announced that one of the World Trade Center towers had been struck by an airplane.

"My first thought was that it was an accident, that a little airplane was involved," Plumer recalls, echoing the initial reaction of many Americans.

Plumer walked across the office to the other side of the building and watched, incredulously, as a second explosion rocked the other tower.

"I still didn't think much of it until someone yelled, 'There's another plane,' " he says. "It was like watching TV, watching a movie. The explosions just kept getting bigger. I thought maybe a helicopter had gotten too close.

"You're thinking hundreds of people were probably killed. Everything at that point was intellectual."

While the building Plumer was in was roughly five miles away from the World Trade Center, beautiful blue skies provided a crisp, clear view of the horror. He returned to the conference room to digest what he had witnessed.

"My initial reaction was to get away from the window, go away and process it," he says. "About 10 minutes after I had witnessed it, when I got back to the conference room, my stomach turned.

"There was a lot of chin rubbing when people realized what was happening."

It became clear to Plumer that talking about Acrobat or anything work related would be inappropriate. The meeting was quickly adjourned.

"For the next few minutes, the attitude was, 'Let's get the hell out of here,' " Plumer relates. "We were on the 51st floor, and it was one long elevator ride down."

Plumer eventually made it back to his hotel, where he used e-mail to establish contact with the world outside New York, as telephone and cell phone communications were unavailable. He watched the day's tragic events continue to unfold on television.

"Watching it only made me more sick, angry and lonely," Plumer adds.

Miraculously for Plumer, he was able to purchase a train ticket to Boston the next day at a self-serve machine at the train station, avoiding the lengthy lines. Upon arriving in Boston, he grabbed a bus and headed home to Gorham, ME, located west of Portland.

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