It was getting toward 9 a.m. that Tuesday morning 12 years ago and I was at the Eye Center on Cortez Road waiting for new glasses on the way to work.
The reception area TV set was always tuned to BayNews 9.
The few people there that morning paid it no mind, until the TV anchor said they were switching to New York City for breaking news.
They showed a live shot of the World Trade Center, a column of smoke billowing from high on the North Tower.
All eyes were on that TV.
Probably a commuter plane crash, I said to myself.
Seven years earlier, I'd flown one from Newark to Cape Cod for a wedding.
We'd gone right over the lower Manhattan skyline, close enough to admire the WTC, before crossing over to Brooklyn, Queens and beyond.
A puddle jumper got too low, I figured.
I couldn't have been more wrong.
When I got to the office, everyone was huddled around the big TV in the Herald's sports department.
What's up? I asked.
Another plane had hit the WTC, someone said.
It was the South Tower this time.
The network replayed the terrifying scene we've all witnessed too many times, the second jet coming low, momentarily blocked from view, and in the next instant the upper portion of the building erupts in a horrific geyser of fire and smoke and debris.
It is only a few minutes after 9 a.m.
A day truly from hell had begun for America.