TWITTER: @sirbacon123

05 March 2010

One Degree of Separation

"Kevin Bacon saved my life."

Those were the words of Ramone, the 60-year old Dominican who drove me to the airport for my trip home.

Before meeting up with him, I had a little free time, so I wanted to visit Ground Zero.

I wasn't sure what there was to see, but I knew I wanted to see it.

So I got up early, grabbed the southbound W train, pumped Jay-Z's "Empire State of Mind" into my iPod and made my way to the site of one of our biggest tragedies.

As I made it to the corner of Church and Vesey, where more than 3,000 lives ended and millions more were forever damaged, my personal soundtrack changed to a song called Empty Sky, from Bruce Springsteen's 9/11 tribute album, The Rising.

The combination of what my ears were hearing, what my eyes were seeing and what my brain was thinking, I almost couldn't take it.

There was nothing on the street or in the air that reminded me of what happened exactly there nearly nine years earlier, but you couldn't avoid feeling your beating heart.

I don't remember hearing anybody speak.

Before leaving, I made a stop at the 9/11 Preview Site to push my emotions to a level they'd never reached.

My experience was one I will never forget, but it was nothing compared to Ramone's story.

He's been a professional driver in New York City for 36 years, usually working 12-15 hours a day.

Every Monday he gets paid.

Every Tuesday he cashes his check.

On the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001, before Ramone went to the bank, he had an early-morning assignment of dropping a client off at Newark Airport.

His client was on United Airlines Flight 93, the same United Airlines Flight 93 which would be hijacked about 90 minutes later and eventually crash into a Pennsylvania field.

From the airport, Ramone drove through the Holland Tunnel, where he planned on stopping at his bank, located right next to the World Trade Center.

However, when he got through the tunnel, his dispatcher said that actor Kevin Bacon needed to be picked up immediately.

So instead of making a right turn, Ramone made a left and headed uptown.

Instead of making a right, he made a left.

Instead of making a right, he made a left.

Instead of going to the World Trade Center on the morning of September 11, 2001, he drove uptown.

One simple change with one significant result.

On his way uptown, he heard the breaking news on the radio.

Everything stopped.

“You could have crossed 5th Avenue, blindfolded and you wouldn’t have been hit.”

He said the only day that compared to 9/11 for him was the day his father died.

"I saw the towers grow, the construction, floor by floor. Every week we saw them get higher and higher. To see them come down, it was sad, very sad."

"But it changed people's attitude in New York. In New York, we thought we were better than anyone. We thought we were the best. After 9/11, the attitude changed. We became more humble, more sociable, more appreciative of other people."

When Ramone got to Kevin Bacon's location, the actor didn't come outside.

At least not right away.

But it really didn't matter.

By that point, he had already played the biggest supporting role of his life.


Anonymous said...

This is an interesting post. For your readers, I'd like to note that you most likely visited the 9/11 Memorial Preview Site at 20 Vesey St., not the "9/11 Memorial Museum."
The 9/11 Memorial, being constructed at the World Trade Center site known as Ground Zero, will be open in 2011. The Museum, which is taking shape beneath the Memorial seven stories underground, is to open later.

Anonymous said...

You hear stories like this all the time about people who should be dead but for some flukish reason - are not. ESPN's "30 for 30" series did one on Jimmy The Greek and he said 3 times he should have died - including 2 flights he was supposed to be on but for some reason never made them - and both flights crashed killing everyone. Stories like Ramone's and Jimmy's make you truly appreciate each and every day. Being unemployed stinks but is far better than not being alive.

Sir Bacon said...

Anonymous #1....

You are correct. It was the Preview Site, thank you. I will update.

The experience was absolutely overwhelming. Every human being should visit at some point, not just Americans.

Thanks for reading.

Mudd a.k.a. Oza Meilleur said...

Bonjour Stewart!

I just read about your quest to find a job on Cyberpresse, the online version of Montréal's French newspaper La Presse. Having been touched by your ordeal, here I am to cheer you on :-)

Your post is very touching. I'm a big Springsteen fan and often listen to that song -- chilling, to say the least. And I bet your visit to that site must have made you feel grateful to be alive... even if you're struggling at the moment.

So keep on rocking in a free world... and keep believing in a better one, also. I'll be checking back to see how things are going for you.

Peace & Love & Dreams Come True,
Mudd a.k.a. AbracadOza ;-)

Anonymous said...

I'm from Quebec and I've just found your blog after reading a text in La Presse, the biggest French newspaper in North America.

I'd been in the same situation than you and I ought to say that the worst may become the best. It's a question of time. You're gonna win. I know that.

All the best and take care.


Anonymous said...

Bonjour Stewart,

I just read the nice article featuring you in La Presse of Montréal.
Reading your blog is really moving.
No doubt, you will go back to work, it's just a matter of time. And each day that is passing by is getting you closer to employment.
Bon courage,

Caroline Laplante said...

Moi aussi je viens de lire l’article du journaliste Nicola Bérubé de La Presse. Je tiens à vous encourager. Je vous souhaite un travail très bientôt ! Bonne journée !

Rishona said...

You have a wonderful style of writing. Hang in there. :-)