I was so wrapped up yesterday and the night before in writing and editing (and editing even further) my most recent post that I didn’t get to acknowledge something, which I’ll have to do right now: Today is September 12, meaning yesterday was the 14th anniversary of a very dark day in human history, not just the history of the United States of America. You most certainly know the significance of yesterday’s date, so much so that I won’t need to specify in this post what happened that day (although if you’re too young to remember, or if you’re reading this post a hundred years from now, this link will help you out).
If you are of a certain age, you probably remember where you were and what you were doing when you started hearing the news about… what happened that day. I, myself, was 3 weeks into a new position at what was at the time my place of employment in Green Bay. (I won’t reveal the company I worked for then, although I will say that unlike other companies in their industry, they don’t quite have a presence in all states. *hint hint*) My shift started at its regular time of 7:30, and I was well secluded in my cubicle and my work 16 minutes later when… you know what began to happen.
Oddly enough, I had just put my headset radio on when the news of… you know, what was happening… began to pop up on the radio. Some of my co-workers started to hear it as well, and we all initially thought it involved… a small, two-seater type of plane that was perhaps flying the wrong way. Of course, that wasn’t the case, as the next hour and a half would so dramatically prove.
As a company, we had a direct concern about… what was happening in New York that morning. A key group of people from our home office (in another state) were in the Big Apple that morning and were doing an event at the New York Stock Exchange; after… you know what happened, their big event, and the day’s trading at the NYSE, would be cancelled. Back at our office around mid-morning (before 10AM or so), our supervisor gathered us around and read a statement from the home office confirming that our colleagues were safe and out of harm’s way in New York.
After that, we were each given a choice: All of the higher-ups in the office clearly understood we were all shook up over… the incidents of that day. So, our supervisor told us we could either take the rest of the day off, where we could pick up our children from school, grab our bearings, etc… or we could stay at work and do our job as normal. While all of my teammates chose the former (an understandable choice, since they did appear pretty shook up), I chose the latter and stayed working. It’s not that I didn’t have any feelings over… the incidents of that day; what I didn’t have were children to pick up from school or a significant other to console. And besides, I was already having a hard time trying to master the difficulties of my new position (which eventually didn’t pan out; I was laid off the next May).
The rest of… that day, I switched back-and-forth between music CD’s I brought from home and the news reports on the radio (NPR, for the record; their on-air staffers seemed calm and somewhat assuring but still sounded clearly shaken by… the events of the day). I didn’t surf the web very much that day, and the first glimpse I caught of… what had happened was a TV that was left on in the cafeteria at work.
One thing that struck me working that day after nearly everyone else left work was this: Being in a big office building that’s virtually empty on a Tuesday is a truly eerie feeling. The office I worked in was spread out in an almost campus-like atmosphere (the company I worked for owned the property and was its only tenant). Even the interstate highway we could see through our office window was eerily quiet, and it remained that way when I took it for my regular drive home.
The hours that followed after I got back home found me catching my own bearings in my own way. I caught only a little bit of the news, preferring to surf past the movie channels instead of the real-life horror story that was playing on CNN and the networks (I comprehended the gravity of the situation; I didn’t want to be reminded of it). The days and weeks after that found myself listening to more music and watching more movies than usual, especially of the jovial variety (Comedy Central was a welcome respite, no doubt about it).
As for back at work, things were business as usual the day after… you know. That morning, our supervisor sought to change things up and perk up our spirits by holding our weekly team meeting in a patio area outside. However, it wasn’t fun sitting in chairs that were still heavy with morning dew, nor was it fun trying to talk over the droning noise of a busy freeway. But, still, we had a pretty good discussion and got things done. Even with business as usual, a cloud of dread, uneasiness, and fear over… what happened and what could still happen… permeated throughout the entire office in the subsequent days and weeks. Naturally, there were displays off clear patriotism, both of the subtle and in-your-face varieties. As an example of the latter… the lady I sat across from, who was our department manager’s assistant, started listening to talk radio (yuck!) at her desk a lot more, beginning the day after (it used to be all Top 40 before). That day after, I could hear from her desk radio one talk host closing his show with the playing of “Born in the U.S.A;” understandably, he wanted to be all patriotic, but even then I knew Bruce Springsteen’s lyrics weren’t about getting the bad guys.
It’s now been fourteen years and one day since… that day, and life in this country and on this planet have certainly changed. The day in question has changed as well, we remember, but we get back to business as usual. Whether you agree or disagree with all that’s occurred in the past 14 years as a direct or indirect result of… what happened that day, it’s a safe bet that whenever this time of the year rolls around, memories of where you were and how you felt come back to the front of your mind. This post is just my way of saying that I remember as well.