PRINT '01, with about twice the exhibit space of the largest Graph Expo and Converting Expo events, was scheduled to take place September 6-13 2001 at the McCormick Place Complex in Chicago. I was one of the CreoScitex team attending the show to display our wares and introduce, under my Value In Print initiative, its new consulting services.
I was staying at the W Hotel in downtown Chicago and, as was the policy of CreoScitex, I was sharing the room with a coworker. Because I had a presentation to do at the show early on the morning of September 11 I awoke about 6 am and decided not to turn on the television so as not to disturb my room mate. I took a taxi to McCormick Place and was quite surprised at how untalkative the driver was. But, after all I thought, it was very early in the morning.
Arriving at McCormick Place I quickly headed through the empty building to the CreoScitex "sales bunker" - the virtual office for sales people to use at the show. Scattered throughout McCormick Place are television monitors that are tuned to the news channel, with the audio off, when the show is not actually open.The scene that I saw on the screen just looked like a pair of giant smokestacks spewing plumes of black soot so I assumed they were doing a story on industrial pollution.So I continued on my way into the sales bunker.
In the sales bunker I tried, but couldn't get on the Internet to check my email. Then I tried to check my voicemail with my cell phone but couldn't get a signal. Frustrated, I proceeded to the CreoScitex booth. Walking through the exhibition halls I noted that many of the exhibitor's equipment was covered with American flags. So typical of the U.S.A. I thought to myself.
I arrived at the booth and started to organize myself for the presentation that I was scheduled to do later that day. A co-worker at the booth came over to me and asked: "Have you heard the news?"
It took a while to sink in. No presentation today. This would be the last day of Print '01.
I decided to walk back to the hotel - all the time trying to get a signal for my cell phone so I could call and let my wife know that I was OK and not to worry. It was two hours before my phone was able to get a signal and I could make the call.
As news reports started coming in there was talk of a jet en route to Chicago and that the Sears Tower might also be hit. As a result, most stores and restaurants were closed. Once back at the hotel, like many of my co-workers, I just wanted to get back home. The news was that all flights were cancelled for at least the next few days which meant that my return flight ticket for September 14 was no good. A call in to the CreoScitex travel agents revealed that we were on our own to figure out how to get back to Vancouver. Fortunately I linked up with a small group in the lobby of the hotel and managed to rent a passenger van - at a highly inflated day rate.
It took us just 24 hours to travel the 2,200 miles back home.
Like fine dust thrown against the wind, evil falls back upon that fool who offends the inoffensive, pure and guiltless.
- The Dhammapada