six days at ground zero
sept 13 - 19, 2001
the trip so far...     contact kevin & aimee

 << Back to Day 15, Rhode Is.

Sept 11, 2001
The Pier
The Early Volunteers
Crossing the Hudson
First Sight
The Observation Room
Change of Priorities
The Scariest Night
Avoiding Detection
Selected Stories from GZ
Spirit of New York
More Stories from GZ
The OEM Arrives
The People
Back To The Real World
Thank You, To Everyone

Chronicle Journal, Sept 13
Personal Journal Documents Days Events

Chronicle Journal, Sept 17
Lakehead Grads in on Intense Volunteer Support Effort

NY Daily News, Sept 17
Camping at Ground Zero

Chronicle Journal, Sept 20
Hope, Horror Clearly Visible in New York

A Dramatic Change of Lifestyle
We didn't get to see Bush arrive because for us it was time to sleep. (Although we did put the boots on the man standing next to Bush on the cover of Time Magazine. Just one of the brushes with greatness while we were there.)

After being up for around 36 hours and running solely on adrenaline, we wandered up to the second floor of the AmEx building. Up there, we passed a floral shop. The shop was open and all of the flowers were still alive. It was heartbreaking to see the orchids and roses that were probably going to die if they weren't taken care of soon. This was a dilemma for us to consider. Do we remove the flowers from the shop and bring them downstairs, where we may be able to 'brighten up the place a bit'? Or do we leave them where they are so that everything on the site remains untouched? It was a decision that was left for after our nap, and would be soon decided for us.

We slept around the corner from the Florist on the marble floor. Aimee went down to the bar in the lobby below to grab a couple of sheets while Kev just passed out directly on the floor. Down at the bar there was a wonderful feeling going on. A few of the men had opened up some liquor bottles and were serving drinks to the exhausted firemen. There were four men sitting at the bar and one who had taken off his fireman's gear to become the bartender. It was one of the first times we had really heard laughter at the site. Any other day you could have said that they shouldn't have been taking something that didn't belong to them, but the rules had changed. Besides, a drink and a laugh was exactly what most of these men really needed just then, and to have that bar open for a few hours to get a few smiles out of the men was well worth it.

It was odd, living under these new rules. It made you question what things really mattered, and what were just material. For example, the ordinary signs of everyday life that we have all gotten used to obeying: "No Rollerblading in this Area", "Closed after 6:00pm", and "No dogs", "No Standing or Walking in Fountain". The fountain was dry and dusty, piled high with bags of hardhats and melting ice. These signs have such insignificant meaning when you've just climbed in through a first floor window to look at the rubble of the building next door. They're actually kind of funny. Under one particular "No Smoking" sign, someone had scrawled "Not Anymore!" in the dust.

Another odd thing that struck us: money. When you think about it, the only value money has is intrinsic. It's only valuable because we all agree it's valuable. Other than that, what is a 20-dollar bill good for? I would go to sleep, and place my wallet under my pillow, without ever once worrying that someone would steal it. Money didn't matter out there. If you had to choose a currency, it was ice, or coffee, or a blanket. Most likely cigars or cigarettes. These were the only things that mattered. Food, shelter, water and warmth were the basics again. No one cared about their hair, or how many calories they'd consumed, or whether or not someone was looking to steal their wallet. It was like living in a self-sufficient society: the market was based on trade of services and goods, not cash. It was a good feeling.

The next time we went into the AmEx building, the army had shut off access to both the bar and the floral shop. The drinks were back to Gatorade and Diet Coke, while dozens of orchids were left to die upstairs.

Current Location
American Express Building, WFC

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© 2001. Kevin Beimers and Aimee Lingman.