On the Road: Adventures in Consulting on 9-11

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for the day; we would begin again the next morning.

At 6:54 a.m. Wednesday, I was awakened by the shrill telephone. The class had been canceled-the building had been closed for security reasons. It was not known when it would reopen, and we would have to reschedule the course. While all airplanes had been grounded the day before, the government had announced that they would be flying again by Wednesday noon. I had a reservation for Thursday to return home and decided I'd keep it. (No use fighting the crowds at the airport today.) I spent the afternoon touring the restored plantation homes west of New Orleans.

Around midnight it was obvious that planes wouldn't be flying for days, no matter what the government had announced earlier. Should I just wait it out in NOLA or find another way home? I called the Greyhound Bus Lines reservations number and found that they don't take reservations-you have to go to the station and buy a ticket. Worried that there would be a mob the next day and no seats available, I set off to the station. At 1:00 a.m. I bought a bus ticket home. It felt right.

The next morning I packed, returned the rental car, caught a cab to the bus station, and waited patiently. At 12:30 p.m. our bus was called for boarding. 

"Good afternoon, I'm your bus driver Larry Living. Living's the name-I'm Living, not dead. Although my wife says I'm dead in the bedroom. But I'm not. I'm Larry Living."

So here I was, riding on a bus, a Greyhound bus, looking forward to a long ride with a great reward at the other end--home.

I haven't been on a bus since I went to church camp in high school. I remember that ride: We put shaving cream on the gear shift knob and waited for the driver to change gears. I remember sitting around the campfire each night and then the walks in the woods back to her cabin. Oh, sorry. I digress. There's not much to do on the bus but digress. Talk and digress.

The bus was almost full, not the way it usually is. Most of the passengers were people like me, professional people who had come to New Orleans for professional reasons and who were now anxious to get home. Bob and Sally were from New York City. Actually, it's Dr. Bob. He's a physician who was in New Orleans for a medical conference. His wife Sally came for fun. Their apartment is four blocks from the World Trade Center complex. They had received information that they wouldn't be able to return home for weeks-their building hadn't been damaged but with the smoke and the soot and the rubble and no power and no water, there was no reason to even try to go home. They called friends in Santa Fe and asked if they could live there for a while. The friends said sure, so they were on the bus.

Buses don't travel like airplanes. Buses stop at every little town along the way. In Lafayette, Louisiana, all the street signs are in Cajun French. Farther up the road I saw a sign: "Wal-Mart Alternate Route" with an arrow. I guess the Wal-Mart is so popular that you've got to have multiple routes to handle all the traffic.

Dave was on leave from the Navy. He's an armorer on a carrier-that means he loads the bombs and missiles onto the aircraft. He was heading back to Utah to get married that weekend. He had been given a week before he

User Comments

3 comments
Sanat Sharma's picture
Sanat Sharma

Touchy article.

We all faced the after effects of 9/11, directly or indirectly. Two of my friends also lost their life on that day. But this is life. We should be ready for worst to face. Our personal lows make us more hard and strong in life.

God bless all who suffered 9/11 accident.

-- Sanat Sharma

September 14, 2011 - 11:25pm
Naomi Karten's picture
Naomi Karten

What a wonderful column – a special mix of poignant and funny. I empathize with the sorrows in your life and am gladdened by the joys. And I appreciate you for mentioning Anna Allison. I thought about her all day yesterday. ~Naomi

September 12, 2011 - 5:04pm
Gerard Miller's picture
Gerard Miller

Thank you for writing Lee.

My condolences on the deaths of two children.

Mick

September 12, 2011 - 9:32am

About the author

Lee Copeland's picture Lee Copeland

Lee Copeland has more than thirty years of experience in the field of software development and testing. He has worked as a programmer, development director, process improvement leader, and consultant. Based on his experience, Lee has developed and taught a number of training courses focusing on software testing and development issues. Lee is the managing technical editor for Better Software magazine, a regular columnist for StickyMinds.com, and the author of A Practitioner's Guide to Software Test Design. Contact Lee at lcopeland@sqe.com.

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