I’m in my underwear and he’s running for his life

September 13th, 2011

Jeffery Sokol was on the 29th floor of the  World Trade Center's south tower on Sept. 11, 2001. He escaped before the second plane hit the building. Photo taken at his Longmont home on Thursday, Sept. 8, 2011. (Photo by Joshua Buck)


In the corner of our small three-bedroom 1950s bungalow living room at 1261 S. Jackson St. in Denver, Colorado sat a new 32″ television set. We were in Target just a few weeks before and on a whim spent money we didn’t have on something we really didn’t need.

You’ve likely been asked the question or at least you’ve heard the question.

“Where were you on 9/11?”

Me? I was standing in that same living room, in my underwear, trying to shake the previous night’s drinking after my college job of waiting tables downtown. My friend Brian called me right at 7 a.m., which was unusual as he rarely saw 7 a.m. back then. He only called early when it was important.

“Turn on the t.v.”

The channel was NBC and the second plane just flew into the south tower. I remember asking Brian over the phone if this was a joke gone bad.

In New York City Jeff Sokol sat down at his desk on the 29th floor in the south tower of World Trade Center.  A muffin and a cappuccino sat on the desk. Kent, his friend he moved to New York with just months before, ran out of his office yelling to everyone “get out of the building. ” Jeff looks out the window and sees a copy machine fly past his window.

“Literally, a copy machine on fire,” he says again, as though we won’t believe him.

Jeff, along with hundreds of others make it to Liberty Plaza when a massive explosion from the second plane careening into the building rocks from above.

Here is Jeff ducking under a scaffold outside of a Burger King, running for his life, witnessing things I can’t even imagine and I’m standing in my underwear thousands of miles away thinking about people just like Jeff.

We both said the same thing, though.

“A lot of people just died,” I said through the phone.


Last Sunday our country recognized the 10th anniversary of the second date which shall live in infamy. Despite your views on the subsequent wars, elections, recessions, political climate or conspiracy theories, remember people like Jeff who live with images of 9/11 everyday. Remember those families who lost innocent loved ones.

Many years ago I started this blog. I named it “When Paths Cross” as a way of sharing with others — who may be sitting in their own living rooms in their underwear — my daily encounters with strangers. And while those strangers and I are often times very different, most often we share commonalities. Take Jeff as an example: Our 9/11 experiences are far different. However, we still share something…we both realize that life is nothing to be taken for granted.

Carpe diem.

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