I'm at an EasyEverything on W. 42nd St (nice area!), and I have an hour or so to kill....at 2:00am...
I left DFW a couple days ago, and arrived in NYC at about 11:00pm, after getting bags and everything, the other supervisors that came up with me and I decided we should get a ride to the Hotel. Actually is much cheaper to get a limo, so we did.
Let me first tell everyone this....I did not really know what to expect from this job, apart from a few details. Apparently, this company I work for is insanely rich, and have put us all up in a posh hotel in Manhattan, about 5 blocks from Times Square. They give us 50 dollars a day, just for food. Not to mention the ample salary...Everything gets re-imbursed here, it's crazy really.
When we got out of the limo in front of the Roosevelt, I kind of had this sinking feeling that I was WAY over my head. This city is huge, and I'm right in the middle of it. There is so much to go and see, so many things I didn't think I would be fascinated with. The people here...I keep thinking ever other person is a celebrity, even if they aren't. I have to give a second glance, just to make sure. Then there's the buildings....so many famous ones...I didn't think I would recognize all these landmarks.
So, ok, I get in the hotel, and our superintendint is waiting for us to brief us on everything. This was about 12:30am, and we talked to him until around 1:30 am. I was then informed I was going to be on the dawn crew, which meets in the lobby at 4:45 AM, THE NEXT MORNING. I got about 30 minutes of sleep, woke up, and went down the next door deli. When I got back, I was issued a hardhat, and we left.
We can take the subway only so far in, and then we have to walk the rest. We exited the Brooklyn Bridge station, and immediately, the smell hit me. The stench of burning concrete, burning metal, and quite possibly the phantom smell of burning bodies. It's a smell that I wanted to get used to quickly, then immediatley decided that this was a smell I couldn't get used to...that I must be disgusted every time I feel this odor.
As we walked closer to ground zero, all I could notice was the murals. Everywhere, there are posters....flyers...flowers in the chain link. The site is extremely haunting, and I felt my eyes turn downward everytime I saw one. We got near to the blockades, and there is one thing I will never forget. We passed by a soot and dust covered bike chained up to a tree...obviously never retreived after the disaster...with a dozen roses banded to the back seat. I never never never thought it would be this emotionally draining, especially since I wasnt even at ground zero yet.
We entered the blockades, and thats when I saw it. Down the street, the whole area was heavily illuminated. All I could see was cranes, smoke, and destroyed buildings. There are so many buildings around the WTC that were hit with falling cement...if you saw any one of them alone, it would appear as a devastating attack by itself. But the scale of it all...there were soooo many buildings like this. Some just devoid of windows, others with sides ripped out. Huge cloth drapes covered some skyscrapers...Immense fabrics draped over countless stories. We walked by a line of "rubble trucks". It was a large line of semis just waiting to be filled with cement and metal. Cops, soldiers, and contrustion workers had the area swamped...this area was definatley not vancant. A large area of the city just populated with public service workers, quite a site in and of itself.
The building we are working in is a neighbooring building to the former WTC, so we walked right by the main site. Expansive cranes, about a dozen of them, and ruins is all that is left. Completely ravished buildings of the center itself is still up, torn to bits with a large section of one of the towers leaning against it. Another large section of one of the towers sides is still standing...
We gathered our equipment and went up to the 17th floor of the World Financial Building. Mostof the windows were blown out, and then boarded up. From the few that remained, we could look right down on the site. We could see the workers spraying down the sub-terranian fires that still raged stories below the rubble. We could only look for moments at time though, we had our own work to do.
I have been assinged to salvage as much of the electronics as possible in two stories of this once busy building. All the desks, cubicles, and offices are just how the workers left them....pictures of families on desks, post-it notes on lamps, meeting minutesleft up on dry-erase boards. All covered with soot and dust. All covered with vaporized concrete, and ashes of nearly 6000 people.
My days are long, 11 hours a shift. My days are also plentiful, 7 days a week. I have arranged my schedule thusly, I go to sleep at 5:30pm when I get off of work, wake up at around 11:30 or 12:00 at night, walk around the city until 4:00 am, then go to work. The past couple days have been a haze, and hopefully I will have a better grip on things this shift.
I can easily say I have never been in a situation like this, in fact, I have no idea how I got here. Even with all I've seen however, I would gladly go anywhere if (god forbid) this were to ever happen again. I also can't re-commend enough that others do the same. I have already seen things that will haunt me forever, but I have never been in a situation (even working on an ambulance) that was this REAL. Everybody here remembers the important things now, especially me.
I'll try to write more when I have time.