My 9/11 Story

As a senior technologist, systems integrator, troubleshooter, software architect and site assessor, my company heavily booked my time.  When I found out over the weekend that they wanted me to go on the same day to two different military sites in the Washington Metro area, on Monday morning, September 10th, I went to my manager and explained why I did not think doing both the same day was a good idea.

They wanted me to go to the Pentagon at 9:00am to meet with Army INSCOM (Information Network Systems Command) because they were having problems in beta testing the most recent network monitoring software.  In the afternoon at 1:00pm I was scheduled to do a site assessment of the service desk at the Hoffman building in Alexandria for Army Human Resources.

It was uncertain how long it would take at INSCOM because first I would have to evaluate their problem, contact the developers and if they required a log file, then I would have to sanitize it by removing ip addresses and domain names before sending it to development.  Then I would have to wait for their instructions and maybe apply a patch.  This could reasonably take a lot of time.

Walking into Army HR and doing a site assessment is tricky.  I knew the techs because of architecting their software solution and I was going to have lunch with them and explain how I do assessments.  First looking for the positive and then suggesting short term and long term improvements.  Also, explaining I will let them read my assessment and take their input before giving it to their managers; that way they will tell me everything without fear of looking bad or losing their job.

So I asked my manager which one he wanted me to do the next day.  He said, “The Pentagon can wait a day.”

The next day was Tuesday, September 11th, and INSCOM lost 7 people in the plane crash.  Two months later I went to Crystal City where they were camping out.  There were two rack mounted servers sitting on the floor.  They had black marks because they were in the fire.  “Maybe that’s why you are having problems with them?”  “It’s okay, they work, our purchasing is not up to speed yet and it’s only a lab!”  So I helped them and they successfully continued their testing.

It was a blessing that I was not there on September 11th!