Day Old Grumblings- September 2002

Day Old Grumblings Originally Published: September 5th, 2002, Editorial Humor, Volume 14, Issue #2



Freddy Krueger was scary. My friend and roommate Raymond Joseph Metz III and I used to watch all the Nightmare on Elm Street films when we wanted to be scared. Shortly after he moved to Connecticut, I bought a Freddy Krueger squirt mask for a housewarming gift. I thought that was funny.

Ray taught me most everything I know in life about being a man; he had a big hand in taking me through college and toward marriage. I knew he would think the Freddy Krueger mask was funny, too, but I kept forgetting to give it to him. When I moved in May of 2001 I still hadn’t sent the mask to Ray. I put it in my basement.

In Boston, September 11th was going to be a big day at my office. Four of my co-workers were going to see, and hopefully sign, a very big client. They were headed to New York from Boston, so when we found out that the plane that hit the first tower was a New York-bound plane from Boston, we freaked out. By the time the plane ignited the first tower, they had already landed and were in a rent-a-car on their way to New Jersey.

Ray worked in the second tower.

Around 12:30pm we all went home to be with our families; nobody was able to focus. After about six hours, when it became apparent that the world had changed forever, I tried to call my friend Ray at his home. I had reason to be somewhat optimistic.

Ray was in the second tower when it was bombed in 1993, and he had made it out. In fact, he had survived quite a number of scrapes and close calls in his life, and by all estimates was quite lucky to have lived through any of them. I got the answering machine at Ray’s home and left a message.

I wasn’t satisfied, so I tried to call his parents. No one home. I left another message. Finally, I tried to call his sister, who lives just a few towns from me. No one home. I left a message. I was still feeling cautiously upbeat. Ray was a champion track and field guy in great shape with an immense amount of street smarts.

By September 12th I still hadn’t heard anything about Ray. I was sure that if anyone could’ve beaten the odds it was him. But I was also certain that if he were alive he would have called me. With Internet service back to somewhat normal, I began scouring all the sites to see if Ray had showed up on any of them. He didn’t, but when Sammy Hagar did I knew to stop looking there for accurate information. If he was hit on the head he might be in a hospital somewhere, unable to call. But the hospitals were not reporting any flood of injured. In fact, many were sending their volunteer doctors and nurses home.

That Sunday, newspapers started printing charts about who was most likely to survive and who wasn’t. Ray worked on the 84th floor of Tower Two. By the time he called his wife to say something bad was happening and he was coming home, he had a decent chance to be on his way by the time the second plane hit the 90th floor of Tower Two.

Days went by with no news. In fact, there was never any news. Ray’s picture went up with all the others. His description was given. His toothbrush was brought in. His company, EuroBrokers, met with the families, and some survivors were able to describe where they had seen coworkers that day, and most importantly, when. It was determined that surviving the terror attack boiled down to a simple decision: Which stairwell did you take? Apparently, my friend Ray had taken the wrong one.

In order to resolve it in some non-grisly way for his two young daughters, a funeral was arranged and held. That was it. I never got to tell him how grateful I was for his friendship and guidance. Like thousands of other role models, big brothers, confidantes, fathers, mothers and children on that day, Ray was gone.

In the post September 11th world, nothing seemed funny anymore and certainly everything seemed scary. In October, preparing for the scariest Halloween ever, I was cleaning up some things and I found the Freddy Krueger squirt mask. It was scary all over again, for all the wrong reasons, and not funny at all.

Robert E. Deutsch