Why I’m spending the day with the memory of Paul Kenneth Sloan
I’m not going to work today.I’m not going to return your phone calls, let my eyes glaze over while reading your e-mails or look at your online comments about my typos.
I’m not going to make a “to-do” list or shrug in indifference when an editor reminds me I need to be at the middle school in a half hour.
It’s not that I don’t care, it’s just that I’m not going to work today.
… Or any Sept. 11 for that matter.
It’s not a protest or a statement – or some hackneyed tribute – there are too many of those already.
It’s just one guy who works for one newspaper who for one day won’t creak the squeaky back of his uncomfortable chair, won’t complain about the sticky “R” on his keyboard, won’t shuffle through a stack of Post-Its looking for a phone number, won’t debate whether to sit in line at the In-n-Out drive through or get his oil changed during his lunch hour.
Instead, I’m going to wake up and have breakfast with my niece and nephew. They’ll look across the table at me and exchange that glance, the one that says “Uncle Andrew has no idea we’re making fun of him.”
I’m going to drive to the Bay area via the backroads of Sonoma County. I’m going to stop at a winery I’ve never heard of and buy a bottle there.
I’m going to watch the leaves of the vineyards changing color, pull over to the side of the road and take a picture of a bird cleaning his feathers on a nearby branch.
I’m going to drive down the coast and run along the shore of a West Marin beach. I’m not going to leave until I start to shiver and my toes turn blue.
I’m going to walk the streets of Berkeley and wonder why the students look younger every year. I’m going to eat a salad heaped with avocado and rifle through the dusty smelling used CDs at my favorite music store.
I’m going to meet up with old friends at a bar on the San Francisco waterfront and drink a pitcher of domestic draught.
I’m going to the Giants game where I’ll watch Barry Bonds with his old knees and new record chase after fly balls with the unsure gait of a little leaguer.
On Sept. 11, 2001, Paul Kenneth Sloan woke up early and listened to Paul Simon while getting ready for work.
He took the E line to the Chambers Street-World Trade Center Station and the express elevator to the 89th floor of the South Tower. After checking his fantasy football team, he began to prepare for a 10 o’clock meeting with co-workers from the Hartford office of Keefe, Bruyette & Woods, a financial services firm founded in 1962.
Paul had a front-row seat when an American Airlines flight 11 hit WTC 1 at 8:45 a.m. He called his mother and father and let them know he was OK.
At 9:03 a.m., United Airlines Flight 175 from Boston crashed into the South Tower.
Paul’s memorial service took place two weeks later at St. Vincent’s Catholic Church in Terra Linda, Calif.
Delivering the eulogy for Paul were his brothers, Matt and Peter; his uncle, Pete; Eugene Inozemcev and Jason Wargin, who played football at Brown with Paul; Chris Kayser, Paul’s best friend since 4th grade – and me, Paul’s other best friend from childhood.
That day, I made a promise to myself that I wasn’t going to work today… or any Sept. 11 for that matter.
Instead, I’m going to spend the day with a friend.