The anniversary

In July of 2001 I was laid off my job at Sprint. After nine years in Long Distance I'd been at Sprint PCS for a year and while I liked my boss and co-workers the rest of the company was batshit insane. The end of my position was a relief more than anything. I sat across the table from my Director, one of a number of truly wretched women I'd worked with, while she tried to find some semblance of human emotion to let me down easy. It was taking her forever, so I finally said "Crystal, I've figured my severance and really this is fine." She thanked me for making it easy for her (looking back I wish I would have made myself cry) and we were done.

That began what I referred to as my Blissful Unemployment. Free summer days, sleeping in days, pool days, all unencumbered by a pesky job. I had no clue what I'd do next, but I was paid through January, so I had time to figure it out.

At the beginning of September an old friend called. He was the head of Operations at a commercial insurance brokerage, and he had a position to fill. We had lunch, and I said yes. And we decided on a start day. I remember telling him "I've enjoyed my joblessness so much, I need one more day. Lets make it Tuesday."

So there I was in my cube, just a bit before 8:30 central, setting a picture of Brett and the dogs on my desk when my new manager Kim stopped by. She said "You should come watch the television in the conference room with us, a plane just hit one of the World Trade Center towers." I was watching that television with strangers who would become my friends when the second plane hit.

I remember Mike getting to the office, having heard what happened on the drive in. I remember calling Brett at work to make sure he knew. The only other thing I really remember is the email from Kevin, the owner of the company, telling us he had no idea what was happening, but that we should all go home and be with our families. The rest of the day I remember mostly as sitting in front of the tv, and the appearance of flags everywhere.

The disaster showed us our best and our worst, made the world love us and revile us, and changed us in ways both significant and ridiculous. I wish I had some big take-away, but I don't.


Craig said...

What a good post David. It's a day we all remember exactly where we were when it happened.

Russ Manley said...

I haven't blogged about my memories of the day, which are still vivid, though I do have a relevant post up. One thing I took away was realizing, sometime later: Ah, so this is how it felt after Pearl Harbor. We read about these big climactic events in history books but wonder how individuals reacted in everyday life. Now I knew something of what the feeling must have been for our parents' generation.

David said...

Its such a strange thing Russ. Our best and our worst. In the face of catastrophy so many regular, everyday people found their humanity and became heros. And in the months and years that followed our politicians used it to foster fear and advance their agendas both here and abroad.

We'll never be the same, but I'm not sure if its because of crazed men flying hijacked planes, or soul-less, greedy men in our halls of government.

Russ Manley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Russ Manley said...

Some of both, I think. And when you talk about our best and our worst, well, that's a description of human nature, isn't it: we are all, every one of us, a compound of good and evil. The challenge is to conquer the evil with the good.