Placing your mouth on a dirty old car tire is probably not the healthiest thing to do, nor the most rational. But then again, there wasn't much about the events of early September, 2001, that really was all that rational.

And besides, what if that nasty old tire potentially saved your life? Or, at the very least, saved you from a horrible and dangerous life-threatening experience?

And so there was Rehoboth Realtor Teresa “T.C.” Cason, on the evening of Sept. 11, 2001, leaning over and placing a big, wet one on the worn down tire of her trusty Saab, at the same time saying a silent thank you to her friends at Rehoboth Auto. She had been advised by her local mechanic not to drive on the questionable tire during the evening or early morning hours.

Taking those words to heart, she was stuck at her home in Rehoboth the next day, planning to leave around 9 a.m. for an important meeting with colleagues. Her destination – New York City and her Sun Microsystems office on the 25###sup floor of 2 World Trade Center.

“I just don't think I was supposed to be there that day, I don't know what else to say about it,” says Cason, today a Realtor with the Oldfather Group of Ocean Atlantic Sotheby's International Realty in Rehoboth Beach. “The funny thing is, they said they had every single guy in the shop look at it because they didn't want to miss anything. I was very annoyed at the time, but after all that happened, I really did go out and kiss that tire.”

Cason said her friends and colleagues were some of the fortunate ones, able to escape the building before it collapsed in the early morning hours of Sept. 11, 2001, in the worst terrorist attack ever on American soil. A member of the Sun Microsystems management team was a passenger on the first plane that struck the twin towers, however, and she says many of her colleagues also left the company shortly after the attacks.

Many, in her words, were “never the same after that.”

“The thing I remember most about the attacks was not being able to find people. There were days that went by when we didn't know who was okay and who wasn't, and that wasn't a good feeling,” Cason admits. “People who were there really went through a terrible ordeal, having to hurry down 25 flights of stairs and watching body parts and debris raining down from above. Even if they were okay physically, it was very hard for them to deal with mentally.”

Cason admits that she's tried very hard to forget that late summer day in the Big Apple, but the events of 9/11 are etched in the mind of every American who sat in stunned silence on that Tuesday morning and watched the horrific events unfolding on television.

For those who were there, the sights and sounds may dull with time, but the memories will never fade from their consciousness. And for one fortunate Realtor from southern Delaware, she will never forget the mysterious flat tire that kept her from being a firsthand witness to history.

As for what happened to the tire that lost it's air for no apparent reason, well that's yet another part of T.C. Cason's 9/11 story.

“You know, they put that tire back on my car and I drove on it for a couple of years before it finally needed to be replaced,” says Cason with a chuckle. “I never had any other problems with it, none at all. It was just one of those crazy things that can't be explained I guess. But I'm certainly glad that it happened the way it did.”

Cason worked at Sun Microsystems for a couple more years after those fateful attacks in 2001, before relocating to coastal Delaware full-time and beginning her career in real estate. She began working for the Oldfather Group last December.

Nearly 3,000 people were killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C.