Fifteen years ago I owned a small business with a partner. We had one employee that had been with us from day one. Our email was set-up on AOL because back then they were really the only game in town. I always kept the AOL home page open for news and sports scores because, again, they were about the only game in town.
I don’t remember the exact time I saw the first headline crawl across my computer screen, it seemed like it was around 8:30 or 8:45 am. A plane had flown into one of the World Trade Center towers. We had a very small television in our conference room. I found the antenna for it and tuned into our local NBC affiliate. At that precise moment this was just a tragic accident not a terrorist attack. And then it happened, and I watched it live, a second plane flying into the second tower and at that moment our world changed.
I had an appointment at 10:00 am. The client was coming to my office to meet but my employee and I were glued to the television when he entered, speechless about was occurring in our country. When he arrived I told him that I would like to reschedule our appointment. Honestly I was scared and concerned and doing any kind of business given all that was going on seemed like a very trivial concern. He didn’t agree. He got mad that I was more interested in something going on in New York city and he would just take his business elsewhere. Amazed, I told him not to let the door hit him in ass on the way out.
This was a big deal and we certainly learned as the day progressed just how big a deal it was. The September 11 attacks killed approximately 3,000 people and injured more than 6,000 others. It has scarred the lives of millions, scars that remain today fifteen years later.
I learned a lot about people that day. I learned that my business partner did not have an empathic bone in his body. Sadly, his reaction didn’t surprise me. Deep down I knew what kind of man he was. There was nothing we could do about it was his position, so let’s get back to work. Unfortunately for him worked stopped as very few people shared his screwed-up view. He was right, physically there was nothing we could do, but we could stop what we were doing and think, pray and reflect for the families involved. I look back now and our relationship never really recovered from that moment on.
My wife worked in a government office and was sent home. I decided to go home too. I told our employee to go home as well much to the dismay of my business partner. We all needed to be with our families I informed him. He, on the other hand, decided to stay at the office where the phone’s quit ringing and no one replied to his emails. By two o’clock he gave-up and went home himself. Later, people told me they couldn’t believe he was still sending out emails looking for a response while this tragedy unfolded. I couldn’t defend his actions.
The client that I was supposed to work with that morning called me several days later and apologized. He tried to explain his position and I told him it wasn’t necessary. It was enough that he had called and we would move forward from there.
For those of us that watched this drama play out on our television screens we all have since moved forward from there. But for those who were there, whose families lost loved ones, who were the real victims of this horrible episode I can only imagine what this anniversary means to them. My heart still aches for those families, all our hearts should ache. It was a senseless act, the murder of innocent people, who if given the opportunity, may have changed the world, instead their deaths did.