I imagine, for the vast majority of us, 9-11-2001 is one of those days and times that you remember exactly where you were and what you were doing. Certainly was the case for me…
I remember the “cubicle,” one of those foam/fabric-wall jobs lining each side of the showroom. Dark blue-green, each wall about 5 feet high by 4 feet wide, faux wood-topped desk sitting underneath a metal cabinet, both attached via brackets to the seams in the walls. My 120 square-foot home away from home.
Not too long before, I had come-up with the business plan for our BDC, and officially moved off the “floor” from my Internet Sales Manager role. So every day, I’d come-in with my laptop (it was my personal laptop), plug it into the CAT5 cable running from what used to be the phone jack in the wall, plug-in my little bubble-jet printer that sat in the overhead cabinet (also my own), and go to work: wrangling CRM software, figuring out how to get more leads and streamline our ILM processes and do all the other fun little things that a BDC can do. I must say, reminiscing now, I remember the time fondly: everything new, everything a challenge – so much to figure-out, fix, and learn.
I mentioned that the laptop was my personal property. And that my internet hook-up was custom – I was the only one on the floor with an actual Windows-based PC with internet. I can remember a few PC’s running – what was that, Window’s 95??? The old horizontal-base stuff – no towers. They weren’t much more than full-color green screens, connected directly via phone line to the OEM’s. And everyone had a green-screen terminal to log-in to their DMS functions, running on the main-frame.
When the news hit, as really the only one with the internet, I was a popular guy. There’s a few faces I can remember, but more so is the recollected feeling of people looking over my shoulder – I can almost still feel the people breathing behind me. I know I was talking to people – but I was staring at my screen. I have a 3rd-person vision of myself and that cube with my face six inches from the screen, with a gaggle of people behind me hanging on every word.
And remember back then – there really wasn’t much streaming video and certainly no RSS feeds – nowhere near the “instant gratification” system we now employ. But I did know how to hit the “refresh” button. The news stations were doing a pretty good job of updating their online content. ABCNews.com, I believe, was the ticket.
I remember the phones ringing. I remember the “hushed” tones and the confusion. I remember the horror and disbelief giving way to anger when the 2nd plane hit. Was it a bomb at the Pentagon or another plane? Was happened to Flight 93? Are there more planes in the air?
I’ll never forget.
In the ensuing days, I helped to organize a collection for victims of the attack. I volunteered to drive the truck to NYC. I’m really no frequent traveler to the city, but I’ve been there a bunch of times. I remember being struck by the foreign appearance of the skyline – so much so that it was almost disorienting: am I in the right place?? The road signs looked right, but nothing else did.
I also vividly recall the genuine warmth and sincere appreciation of the volunteer workers at the warehouse. I was just a guy who showed-up with a truck full of stuff. They welcomed me like the prodigal son. It was then apparent to me that this “event” had changed things. People had changed. I had changed.
I’ll never forget.
Do you have a dealership 9-11 story?