I was working downtown Cleveland and had taken an actual lunch (instead of just going down to the McD's) to go get blades for my electric razor. Inside the Remington Store in the Arcade, there was a TV up in the corner above a display case of knives. On the screen smoke billowed from a semi-circular hole in front of a building. If it had been taller, I would have thought someone was replaying footage of the attack on the Marine's barracks in Lebanon. I didn't remember any helicopter footage of that scene, though. And the sunlight looked all wrong. Lunch, for me, was over.
The clerk rang up my purchase and I asked what was on the TV. I could hear a speaker behind the counter, but it wasn't loud enough to hear in front of the counter. He said it was something happening in Oklahoma. For a second I worried. I knew people in Oklahoma. And I didn't know where exactly they worked.
I had, however, heard about the Murrah Federal Building. A favorite target of nutbags West of the Mississippi (and some points East). The world wasn't nearly connected then. Sure, I ran back to the office taking the steps two at a time (the Remington Store was downstairs at the Arcade). Jogged through Tower City and then to my cubicle. CNN hadn't updated yet. Nobody knew what was happening.
And then the afternoon exploded. Most people had heard about Radical Islamic Terrorist by that date. The Blind Sheik had tried to blow up the World Trade Center with a Ryder Truck packed with an ammonia-nitrate bomb blowing a hole in the lower parking deck and killing a few people. Suddenly, and without cause, they all knew it had to be a muslim. I wasn't quite positive, but I was pretty sure it would turn out to be a "Amurican" of the disgruntled military variety.
Others didn't believe me. Surely no American would do this. It had to be foreign radicals.
Fifteen years ago today. Times haven't changed much. Except now we have the internets and Fox News which creates an even more intense echo chamber.