It was September 11th, just like any other gorgeous Fall day. Except this was a big day. I was a young whipper snapper. Big job at Fidelity and had to go to the exec floor for a big girl presentation. You know all the muckety mucks going to sit around the table and try to make a decision. I had a 47-page powerpoint deck that I stayed up all night spell-checking and practicing in my bathroom mirror. I was ready to dazzle them with my brilliance. I got to the exec office early (of course) and the office assistant gave me coffee and sat me in the lobby in one of those uncomfortable chairs because the guys were running late. I was so nervous, I could barely sit still. The chair was facing a giant TV screen that ran CNBC on low to no volume. I was watching some update about the price of oil and checking my slides when I looked up to see smoke and a news alert across the screen and what appeared to be the World Trade Center on fire. I couldn’t believe my eyes. What the F was going on? I stood close to the TV trying to hear what the reporter was saying – something about a plane flying into the tower – and at that moment, the second tower was hit. I write this and still remember this feeling of numb. Of complete confusion and an overwhelming feeling of fear and horror. I immediately thought about the tons of people I knew in NYC – many I worked with, many I went to college with or used to work with – and wondered if they were okay. Then wondering if this was an accident and soon realizing it was not. Then realizing I was now surrounded by about 20 people and I started to cry and we were all crying. Even one of the muckety mucks. Then I realized I had a team of people probably in tears and wondering what the H was going on and I ran to my office to try to sort out what we need to do now.
I couldn’t call anyone. The phones were dead. There was no text. There was no constant Twitter or FB feed of news and updates. I had to mobilize a team of 20 people to produce communications to let people know what was happening around the world. I had to focus and try not to wonder about my friends and if they were okay. It was one of the longest days of my life.
I walked home from work that night through Faneuil Hall. A typical gorgeous Fall day in September and, usually, the place is swarming with people relishing the last Indian Summer days. On that day in September, it was just me and about 50 Boston policemen on motorcycles. Waiting. I walked by and felt like I was living in a movie scene. Like the aftermath from the apocalypse. I guess it wasn’t too far off.
I realized I left my 14 copies of my 47-page deck on the chair of the exec office suite that morning. I could barely remember what the presentation was about. So much perspective happened for me so quickly that morning. Perspective I will never forget.