Chai and Cow

A little of this and a little of that

15 Year Later

on September 11, 2016

I wasn’t in New York that day and I didn’t lose a loved one, thank God. I wasn’t part of the recovery efforts at Ground Zero. I will not know how it feels to have been in the city that day 15 year ago. But I have a memory from that day that I will never forget.

The story starts the week before. I was working for a software company in Portsmouth, NH. We offered payment solutions to companies large and small for both payroll and accounts payable. This was back when electronic payments and remittance was still new technology.

I was on the phone with one of my clients, Keenan. He worked for Fiduciary Trust and his office was in the south tower at the World Trade Center. We were in the process of updating their software to the latest and greatest. As part of the upgrade process I needed the files on the computer that ran our software. He told me he would load the files on CD (remember, this was 2001) and Fed Ex it to me.

That week I was also making plans for one of my co-workers to handle a training for me at a client location near Washington, DC. I wasn’t able to make the trip so he was going to do it for me. We bundled up everything he needed and made plans to do a debrief after the training was over.

On the morning of the 11th I had a meeting with my manager. I went into her office, which she shared, and the two of them were listening intently to something coming over the radio. There had been an accident at the World Trade Center. A plane had “accidentally” flown into one of the towers. I left their office and went to tell a co-worker what was happening. I can clearly remember thinking something was wrong. How could that have happened? We learned shortly thereafter that it was no accident.

We immediately put a call into our travel desk. Which employees were in New York, who was in Washington? My heart sank as I realized Tim was near Washington, covering one of my accounts. The reality started to set in with how many clients we had in those towers: Cantor Fitzgerald, Marsh & McLellan…Fiduciary Trust.

We got in touch with Tim and he was safe. He arranged to keep his rental car and drove home from Washington. Thank goodness.

We were sent home for the day since no one knew if this was all over or there was more to come. Loved ones knew I traveled often for work and I reassured them all I was safe and sound.

I got to work the next morning and received a call from someone in one of the Florida offices of Fiduciary Trust. They needed our help to get their system up and running so they could begin cutting checks for families. We started going through files to figure out what we had that could be used to piece together a replica of their actual system.

As I was going through files, a Fed Ex package was dropped at my desk. I looked at the return address and it was from Fiduciary Trust, in the south tower of the World Trade Center. I opened it and there was the CD containing every file I needed to rebuild their system and a note from Keenan. Keenan had mailed it to me on the 10th. I was shaking as I walked it into my manager’s office. We called the contact in Florida and let them know what we had in our hands. It was everything we needed to replicate their system. It was almost too much to process.

The next day, I was trying to go about my day when the phone rang. The number was a New York number. I answered and all I heard was “Jen, it’s Keenan. I missed my bus.” He missed his bus that Tuesday morning. He missed his bus and was late to work. We both started to cry. He asked if I got the CD and I told him yes. We didn’t say much more than that, he told me he would be in touch and we hung up the phone.

I finally got a chance to meet Keenan in person two months later when I visited their temporary office in New York. We didn’t say much about what had happened just weeks earlier. We just went about our business, trying to make the interaction as normal as possible.

Every September 11th I think about Keenan (and Tim) and that phone conversation we had on September 13th. I will never forget.

 

 

 


2 responses to “15 Year Later

  1. chris cole says:

    powerful story. amazing how something as ordinary as a missed bus can change a life forever

    Like

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