Recently uncovered and collected by the National Archives are personal journals kept by everyday citizens in the days following September 11, 2001. It is an attempt to preserve for all time these raw, incisive, and emotional accounts of what people went through to make it home safe to their families. In this recurring feature we’ll share a new, touching story of real Americans and their real lives.

Donald Robinson, Businessmen
_I was in Washington, D.C. at the time and being the really fucking rich businessmen that I am, I’m entitled to everything going right. I knew I couldn’t get a flight so I headed to the rental car lot but all the cars were booked. Even the U-Hauls and Ryder truck lots had waitlists. It seemed that the only way to get back to California was in a pine box. That was when I spotted it, a gleaming yellow, black, and white chariot of freedom. I hailed the cab and climbed in… _

Cabbie: Where to?
Me: Pacific Palisades.
Cabbie: Excuse me?
Me: You heard me. California. Let’s get cozy.
Cabbie: But….
Me: Drive. There’s $50,000 and a handy from one of my many mistresses in it for you.

_We were cruising through the Appalachians when the tedium began to hit. _

Me: Slug bug! You owe me a Coke.
Cabbie: Hey, I wasn’t even playing!

_By the time we reached Nebraska you could cut the tension with a knife. _

Cabbie: So, uh…. How ’bout all those people who died?
Me: Yeah, that’s a bummer.
Cabbie: Say, is that an out-of-state license plate?
Me: If you even think about hitting me on the shoulder I’ll cut your head off and fuck your esophagus.

_Our toughest challenge was when we crossed the Rocky Mountains. His 1984 Crown Victoria was having troubles. _

Me: Look, you’re giving it too much! You’re going to burn the transmission! Downshift!
Cabbie: You’re not being very helpful. I know how to drive my cab!
Me: Look, who’s the cabbie and who’s the passenger here?
Cabbie: You’re this close to getting thrown out of this cab.
Me: Hey look, we’re crossing the Great Divide!
Cabbie: Hmm, this should prove metaphorical.

_But a brighter future was ahead. For you see, we took a detour… _

Me: Hey, pull over.
Cabbie: But this is the MGM Grand. I thought you wanted to get home to your family.
Me: Look, I’ll bankroll your gambling and you’ll get two handys from two of many mistresses and a blowjob from my 20-year old Laotian sex-boy if you stop.
Cabbie: Agreed.

We shared a bed together in the casino that night, just the cabbie and me huddled against the dark forces of terrorism together in the warm darkness of that casino hotel. It was there that I decided that I would leave my family and together the cabbie and I would open a small roadhouse on the outskirts of Vegas where we’d serve warm home cooking and a hot cup of coffee to anyone who walked through our door with a smile. Then we’d steal their wallets.