On 9/11 I was in Paris, France to attend an industry conference. I brought my girlfriend, arriving a couple days earlier as we had planned a vacation after the conference with travel to London and Amsterdam. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, we were sightseeing at a church when we noticed a commotion among the other tourists. Clearly people were talking about something out of the ordinary, and we started to ask others what was going on. Someone who spoke English said they heard a small plane hit one of the Twin Towers, which a lot of people heard as well in those early minutes.
Someone nearby who overheard our conversation came up to us, and this person was an American and he said, no, it was not a small plane, it was two commercial jets and both of the towers were hit and have fallen. He said he had watched it on the news. We immediately went back to our hotel to see for ourselves. Indeed, the TV in our room was playing the coverage of the horrible, and unbelievable events. I think we were in some form of shock, as we just sat there watching TV for hours, feeling more removed as the TV had no English language stations and neither of us spoke French.
After many hours we were able to contact family to check on them, and it took me many hours more to verify that two of my salespeople were okay as I knew they had sales meetings that day, one of them close to the Towers. Being a New Yorker, I have a number of friends that saw horrific things, were in the immediate area and traumatized, or knew people that lost their lives.
That evening we went out to dinner, taking a cab to the restaurant. During the cab ride, the driver asked if we were American. After replying yes, the French cab driver rather emotionally said “I am so sorry about the Twin Towers”. We did not know what to say other than thank you. Quite remarkably, on several other occasions that evening, at the restaurant, at a bar, strangers from France and what we believe to be other countries came up to us to offer their sorrow for what had happened to the United States. To this day I still get a little emotional thinking of all the different people that evening that approached us with a sympathetic word.
The conference started the next day, but at its conclusion we cut our trip short and got back to the U.S. once the planes were flying again. I was very thankful to be back on home soil close to family and friends. Despite these despicable and horrendous events, I am heartened by the thought and belief that the vast majority of people regardless of home country are good and caring as evidenced by the kindness of strangers the evening of 9/11/01.