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The Time I Was Convinced We Were Attacked By Terrorists

February 11, 2014


The sound was unmistakable. I could immediately smell the acrid scent of gunpowder. The bomb, or bombs since there were two explosions were very close. Less panicked, but more scared than I expected, I looked for a place to take cover. The best I could muster was a folding chair. I was in the middle of the infield at Safeco Field, home of the Seattle Mariners baseball team. The rest of my coworkers had the same searching look on their faces as we tried to figure out which direction the threat was coming from.


The voice was coming from the stage where two balls of dissipating smoke still hung in the air from the fireworks that someone thought would be a clever way to get everyone’s attention for the start of the Microsoft company meeting. It was late September 2001. Three weeks after the attacks of September 11th.

This was the first public gathering many of us had attended since the attacks. We had implemented stricter security on Microsoft campus. And, no one knew what the terrorists had planned next. Safeco field that day held about 6,000 employees of one of the largest companies in America. And Microsoft was one of the companies that was viewed as uniquely American. A symbol of the USA excellence in software and high tech. We were led by not only the richest man in America, but the richest man in the world. Talk about a target rich environment.

And someone thought it was a good idea to set off explosives at the beginning. It might have been different if they had been set off as part of a larger show, but they literally were the first thing on the agenda. We were all milling around thinking how cool it was that we got to be on the infield. We were taking pictures of each other sneaking under the rope around the pitchers mound when the bombs went off.

No, they weren’t really bombs. And no one was injured. But, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone got a really terrible performance review that year. There are bad decisions and then there are complete shake-your-head, what-were-you-thinking decisions.

It’s been 12 years since that Day The World Stopped Turning. We no longer worry about gathering in large groups. The battle against terror, or the battle for freedom, or the battle against extremists exists far away; visible through our computers and newspapers. Deaths in the Middle East are not even the lead story any more. We take off our shoes when we go to the airport, and we throw away bottles of water that we forgot about before getting into the security line. We still have attacks like the Boston Marathon bombing. But, for the most part we’ve established a new normal. The war and the terror are far, far away.

But, for one terrifying moment it was just a few feet away.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife and thirteen children.

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