By Jack Hackley
Every time Sept. 11 comes around, I think about my trip to Chicago in 2001 on that infamous day.
My best friend and client, Cecil Troutwine, who owned Chicago Beer, one of the largest Anheiser-Busch distributorships in the country, called and asked me to come to his office in Chicago. He wanted to talk to me about a farm in Clay County he would like to buy.
I took the early Southwest flight, rented a car, turned on the radio, and was heading down Cicero Avenue to his distributorship on 122nd Street when the first plane flew in to the World Trade Center.
I ran in to his office and told him to turn on the television. We watched the whole thing evolve. I told him I needed to get back to Kansas City. When I got back to Midway, police cars were across the entrance. They had shut down the airport. I got a hotel room and was stuck in Chicago with no way home by plane, train or bus. After the first night I had to buy more clothes.
I went to a restaurant down the street from the Hampton Inn where I was staying. They put me in a dining room where the only other occupants were a group of men sitting at a larger table. That is when I saw they were Arabs, who along with the waiter, were toasting the success of Bin Laden blowing up the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
I have often wondered what would have happened if I had followed my instinct, grabbed their champagne bottle, and hit one of them over the head. When I finally got a hold of the FBI to report this incident, they informed me they had received hundreds of calls like mine.
After three days in the hotel, I drove the rental car I wasn’t suppose to take out of the Chicago area back to Missouri, turned it in at MCI at a cost of almost $900.
When I finally got home after four days and a couple thousand dollars in expenses, I called Cecil and said, “Next time you need to talk to me, I will meet you at Denny’s by the Sports Complex in Kansas City.”