How A Girl, An Uncle, and Cappuccino Saved My Life: A Reflection on 11 Sept 2001

Today is a few days past the 10th Anniversary of Sept.11th, yet I still wanted to post these thoughts because they have been going round and round inside my head over the past week.

I (Dan) have a few (maybe more) quirks – anyone who knows me can testify to that fact. 🙂 One of them is exploring different coffee shops with my uncle whenever I visit him or he visits me. Another one is hoping the plane is overbooked so I can stay a free night and get a flight voucher. (Although this quirk has waned since traveling with children.)


In August 2001 I planned a trip from Santa Cruz, CA where I was working to Boston, MA to visit my Aunt Jeanne, Uncle Sonny, and cousins. I called American Airlines to book a round-trip ticket from San Francisco to Boston. I asked the reservation lady on the phone to have me return on Tuesday, September 11th. She asked how early I wanted to leave Boston because she had one connecting through Los Angeles and one connecting through Denver to San Francisco. I paused for two reasons. One I told her and one I didn’t. The one I told her was I wanted to go into Boston with my uncle and get a cappuccino at a bakery he knew downtown because he teaches dentistry at a university downtown on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I wanted to make sure I could sit for a few minutes and enjoy another “chapter in the book of memories,” as my uncle says, before I raced off to Logan. Yet the other reason I paused is because in the back of my mind I had thought to get a flight connecting through Denver in the hopes that the leg from Denver to San Francisco would be overbooked earning me a flight voucher and free layover in Denver. I know that sounds odd, but I was a hopeless romantic and thought this would give me a chance to see a girl in whom I had an interest. So, with these two reasons in my mind, I turned down the direct flight and asked the lady to book me on the one an hour later with a layover in Denver.

A few weeks later on 11 September 2001 I made it to the airport, but I never made it on my flight as the FAA started grounding all flights because two planes from Boston had just been hijacked. Oh, and the earlier flight offered to me – the one I turned down for coffee, my uncle, and a girl – was one of the two flights hijacked and flown into the Twin Towers.


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