Sáin asked me this morning where I was during 9/11. This is the first time Sáin’s asked me and two thoughts came immediately to mind. 1. She’s getting older. 2. I’m getting older. (I remember thinking everyone who could tell you where they were when Kennedy got shot or when man landed on the moon was OLD.)
So I told her.
I was driving to work on the I-90 bridge, it was just before the
I got to work and only one other person was there – Kevin Barrett. Kevin and I immediately called our NY office which was located only blocks from ground zero. They were okay.
My job that day was to track down all NY employees – 324 people. The photographers were easy to find. Pictures were coming in so quickly that day. Quick and unfiltered – I am still haunted by some of the unfiltered pictures that came in. Others weren’t so easy to find. I called spouses, siblings, parents, ex-spouses, estranged children, it didn’t matter who you were or how old the data might’ve been if there was contact information in the personnel file, I called it. By the end of the day every NY employee was accounted for.
That day I talked to so many people; everyone had a story to tell me. Everyone thanked me for calling and everyone wanted to talk. So I listened. I listened to a 90 year old grandmother talk about an unaccounted for grandchild and to teenagers crying for the Mommy and Daddy. I listened to it all. I listened and I learned more about humanity that day than I had in the 20 some odd years before.
For weeks I got cards, letters, and even a box of amazingly delicious chocolates from people thanking me for checking on their family members and thanking me for listening.
Every September 11th I think of those people. I wonder how they are doing 7 years later.
When I was done telling Sáin this story she said to me, “You must be proud you were able to find all those people.” Like I told her – I don’t really feel proud, I feel lucky.