An Odd Number

I recently had jury duty. The number on my badge is one of the evocative ones, and made me think of a souvenir that was available in the gift shop in the building where my cousin used to work. Today’s object is that little pewter pin that I decided to wear above my badge while on duty.

911 badge and mementoMy pewter pin is not really the focal object. It was evoked by the the number.  The number is actually the object of interest.

This prime number. The sequence of digits that the FCC decreed in the 1970’s to herald and imply a call of distress via telephone, like “SOS” (di-di-dit da-da-dah di-di-dit) was the distress call of the telegraph. This number even visually resembles the former towers that come to every American’s mind when they hear the number. I wonder if the attackers considered any of this when choosing the date nine years ago.

The number has almost religious significance in our culture. Although most of the court folk — lawyers, clerks, fellow jurors — hailed me as “nine-eleven”, but one particular sheriff called out this, and only this, three digit number as three individual digits: “Nine-one-one”.

My cousin is fine. He got a different job after the first serious attack on those buildings in 1993.

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