By LISA BRITTON
Joyce Olver was sleeping when Flight 11 slammed into New York City's Twin Towers on Sept. 11, 2001.
Olver, a flight attendant with American Airlines, had been scheduled to work that flight from Boston to Los Angeles.
andquot;I was supposed to be on the plane,andquot; she says.
But five months before, on April 15, a 500-pound man stepped on her foot and started a chain of events that saved her from that catastrophic day.
andquot;Because of that accident, my doctor pulled me off the flight on Sept. 5 so I could have surgery on my foot,andquot; Olver says.
She was based in Chicago, and was a bit bummed about not flying, so at midnight on Sept. 10 she decided to drive home to Kentucky and surprise her husband.
He was away at work when she arrived, and she promptly crawled into bed.
Then her daughter called.
andquot;I hadn't been asleep very long when the phone rang,andquot; she says. andquot;She was hysterical and told me to turn on the TV.andquot;
Olver, groggy and tired, did what she was told and couldn't believe her eyes.
andquot;Like a lot of people, my life changed, and will forever be changed,andquot; she says.
Now Olver travels the world to speak about her experiences, and tell how she dealt with survivor's guilt.
Though she wasn't close to the crew of Flight 11, she still felt a close connection.
andquot;You're bonded because you're all crew,andquot; she says.
Olver will share her story on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. at Baker City Christian Church, 675 Highway 7. The public is invited.
On Thursday, Olver will be the guest speaker for the monthly Mid-Day Connection luncheon, which will be a barbecue at the ranch of Kay and John Dobbel. The luncheon begins at 11:30 a.m., and those who want to carpool should meet at Calvary Baptist Church. The last car will leave at 11 a.m.
The lunch costs $7. To make a reservation, call Julie at 524-9604, or e-mail email@example.com.
Olver will travel to La Grande Thursday afternoon to speak at 5:30 p.m. at the Blue Mountain Conference Center, 404 12th St. This is in conjunction with the Health and Beauty Fair.
Appetizers and desserts will be served, and the event is open to the public. Reservations are encouraged, but walk-ins are welcome. For information, call Edith at 962-0592, Nancy at 663-0739, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Olver lives in Hebron, Ky., but she is a former resident of Oregon where she operated the Academy of Fine Arts in Clackamas County for 25 years.
Becoming a flight attendant was her second career.
andquot;I've wanted to be a flight attendant since I was young,andquot; she says. andquot;I was a grandmother when I went to flight school.andquot;
Flight school is an intense 6 weeks, she says, and only those who score 100 percent on all tests are certified to become a flight attendant.
She graduated on April 4, 2001.
Her foot was crushed on April 15.
She was able to work off and on for several months.
andquot;Then 9/11 happened,andquot; she says.
She's had five surgeries on her foot, and the FAA won't let her work due to her medication.
But she still climbs on board airplanes to travel and share her story.
In addition to dealing with the emotions of how close she came to being on Flight 11, Olver dealt with the guilt of not calling her husband on Sept. 11.
He thought she was on that flight.
andquot;My husband spent all day thinking I was dead,andquot; she says. andquot;Our lives are so busy and hectic that we don't keep in touch with friends and family like we should.andquot;
She says she survived for a reason.
andquot;God showed me there was a plan for me, and it wasn't my time,andquot; she says.
This is her message she shares around the world:
andquot;To give people hope, and something to believe in,andquot; she says. andquot;I can't imagine getting through a day and not having a God to believe in.andquot;
The events of Sept. 11 made her look at life with new eyes.
andquot;We need to live every day as if it's our last,andquot; she says. andquot;Be a good person everyday. When you're gone, what will be your legacy?andquot;