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Saturday, September 10, 2011

Remembering 9/11

I remember it well. The oft-noted blue sky. Shortly after coming into work, some commotion was in the cubicle behind me. The guy who sat there had a live TV feed into his PC, and there was news… a plane had crashed into WTC 1. Everyone from my department was watching the T.V. Some were murmuring about rumours … a small plane, everyone thought at first. I thought “That’s a pretty big hole for a small plane”.

At this point, it was a normal day at a large multinational investment bank on a low floor in a Chicago high rise. All that was about to change.

When the plane crashed into WTC 2, and everyone witnessed it on TV, all the sudden all of the managers standing around the T.V. left.   We all looked at each other with a grim look – this was no accident.  That’s when it dawned on some of us that we were currently standing inside of a target.  Within minutes, nobody of any management level was to be found. We learned later that they had all been called into a meeting with the head of the Chicago office, cross-linked to NYC and our corporate HQ overseas.

When they emerged, they informed us with grim faces that the management team had decided to close the Chicago office, and encouraged everyone to leave. And security was standing next to them… and told us not to take the elevators. They also told us to work our way home quickly by train or bus, but to avoid walking near the Sears Tower on our way.

On the train home, I realized that I had a conference call with a vendor rep. who happened to be located in Hawaii. In Hawaii, the first plane hit WTC 1 at about 2:45 AM, and our call was around 5:30 AM for him.  He, I and a California based rep from the same company got on the conference call line at the same time. “Before we start,” I said, “Do you know what’s happening in NYC right now?” I asked him.


“You’d better turn on the T.V.”

“What channel?”

“Any channel.”

He thought I was kidding.  His mainland-based coworker told him “Actually, he’s right.  You should turn on your T.V. right now.”  He turned it on in time to see the south tower fall. The call was deemed over.

Our company didn’t do any business in WTC, but we had counterparties there. An unknown co-worker was there that day, and he was never seen or heard from again. But, I was safe. None of my friends or family perished that day. It was a rough week coming to grips with all of this, but not as tough as for those who lost loved ones.

I’ll never forget it.

posted by Michael Humphries-Dolnick at 10:03 pm  

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