Alot of people are posting today how we should never forget, and I guess they’re right. I’ll never forget the people I used to work with or that lived in my neighborhood that we lost that day. Personally I would like to forget the rest. I’d like to forget that surreal fall that I spent looking at pictures of people I used to work with posted on telephone poles as missing. Coming out of the subway near my office on Wall Street into a movie scene complete with police with rifles, german shepherds and masks. That acrid smell of burnt I don’t even know what that lingered for weeks and blew over the water to my house.
Weeks and months of attending memorials for people whose bodies had not yet been recovered, wondering to myself what would the family do if and when they found a piece of their loved one- would you get a coffin and have another memorial?
Waking up in the middle of the night when the fire siren went off and running to the tv to see what happened now?
On September 11th 2001, I was late for work at 40 Wall Street because I didn’t have anything I wanted to wear. Everything was either not clean, had a stain, was tight or I just didn’t feel like wearing it. I also had a dentist appointment in Rockaway that I had to leave early for and had forgotten to mention it to my boss.
I made a deal in my head on the way to the train station- if I got a good parking spot at Sheepshead Bay I would go to work, if I didn’t I would go to the fruit and vegetable store and come home with some healthy stuff and do the laundry. I hadn’t called in sick for more than a year.
No spots, I came home. I went shopping, and as I drove back over the bridge I heard about a plane hitting the World Trade Center , and could see smoke in my rearview mirror. So began the strangest couple of months in my life since my husband passed away. I’ve never been so thankful for tight pants and root canal.
Eleven people that worked in the office I was the manager at the previous summer died that morning. We didn’t know that for a while though, everyone was just considered missing. Sigrid Wiswe took my job at the Marsh McLennan Onsite on the 94th floor of 1 WTC when I transferred to our office at Wall Street, she died that day. Her memorial was one of the strangest for me, survivors guilt I guess. Plus I had personally hired 8 of the people gone and worked with them for 2 years. During the week immediately after 9/11 I spent some time trying to help out with some of the technical aspects of the missing office which handled travel arrangements for thousands of Marsh employees around the country. Our hotline was still issuing airline tickets to printers that no longer existed, they didn’t know. My friend Janet was the only surviving member of the management team – she stopped to vote that morning. She was busy trying to make travel arrangements for family members of people missing to come to NY to do what? Look for them I guess, be there to mourn. We didn’t know what to do.
I thought I might have to speak at one of the memorials, I just looked around and found the memorial I wrote for my friend Lucy.
For Lucy Crifasi
Most people spend a lot of their time at work. When you work together with a group of people for years, the people you work with become like a second family. I had the pleasure of working with Lucy for two years as her manager. To me, she was more than a co-worker or employee, she was my friend. At our office at the World Trade Center, Lucy st directly outside of my office, and I used to call her name whenever I had a minute to stop and talk. Lucy- sometimes she would have to tell me to leave her alone, she was on a call. I used to say, most of the people in this office have a view of the Statue of Liberty, I get a view of Santa Lucia. Customers loved to work with Lucy, and a lot of them would rather wait for her to call them back, than let someone else make their travel arrangements. Lucy was earned the Pacesetter award at American Express, which recognizes our top performers with an all expenses paid trip.
Lucy was always flexible, and willing to help out wherever we needed her to. We talked a lot about our families too. Whenever Lucy had a new picture of her Godson, or I had a new picture of my niece, we couldn’t wait to get to the office and show the other- we always commented that we had the most beautiful babies in our families. We even discussed their dating each other when they grew up.
We spent a lot of time talking about our jobs, vacations, who was having a sale, and life in general.
Most of all, we supported each other when things got stressful at work. I remember Lucy’s first day, when we opened the new Marsh McLennan Onsite. It was chaos that day- the phones weren’t working, there were 20- new employees, new customers, and it was Lucy’s first day on a new computer system. I saw her in the afternoon in the Ladies’ room, and asked how she was doing. She just put her hand up and said she couldn’t talk about it. She did take the time to encourage me though, and tell me what a good job I was doing encouraging the team- and we took a deep breath and went back to work. A lot of times when things were happening in the office, Lucy would go home and discuss the situation with her sister Maria, and come in and give me advice in the morning, or tell me I was doing the right thing.
I used to practice my Italian with Lucy, so I’d like to say in closing-
Lucy- Ti Saluto, mi manchi, ti voglio bene. Arrivederci. I salute you, I miss you, I love you. Until we meet again.
Anne Ransom, Loretta Vero, Yvonne Bonomo, Paul Zois, Lucy Crifasi, Sigrid Wiswe, Gennady Boyarsky, Benito Valentin, Bridget Esposito, Karen Renda, Lisa Kearney-Griffin.
Those were some crazy times. I guess we shouldn’t forget, even though I think I’d like to.
My intention with the blog was to talk about living it up- I was thinking OMG, two memorials in a row, nice but depressing. But it fits with the overall reason I want to consciously LIVE IT UP, doesn’t it?