Terrorism - It’s Personal
I work in a mutual funds transfer agency, writing letters to shareholders about how to change the registrations on their accounts, how to add wiring information, that sort of thing. On September 11th my desk was located in the call center of the company, where there are three televisions suspended from the ceiling in various vantage points on the floor. We tune to the financial station, so when the World Trade Center was attacked, the explosion caught my peripheral vision, and I stood up at my desk and said, “Oh my God, what the hell is going on?” That turned everyone else’s attention to the TVs, where approximately 90 pairs of eyes were riveted for the entire rest of the day.
I also remember saying, to no one in particular, “That’s war. We’re going to be at war now.”
Shortly after that, the Pentagon was hit, and I shivered and said, “Oh my God, they’re moving down the coast.” I picked up the phone and called my dear friend in Atlanta who is an office manager for US Secret Service. I called her house and spoke with her grandmother who lives with her, and Nan told me that Christine was busy, but okay, and that they were evacuating her building of non-essential personnel shortly.
That did little to un-knot my stomach. Was she essential or non?
More recently, I’ve been watching as terrorists target our government and the press with Anthrax laced mail, and wonder about the safety of my friend Lynnie, and her husband who both work for a newspaper.
The other day a member of our correspondence team was helping a shareholder remove her deceased husband’s name from her mutual fund account. She was returning the death certificate along with a letter of instruction. The cause of death was blunt trauma to the entire right side of the body. The deceased was an employee of Cantor Fitzgerald, date of death, September 11, 2001. My co-worker showed me the certificate, and stood for a moment, wondering how many others we would see come across our desks. Not to mention how many letters we would forward to alternate offices for mutual fund brokers who had formerly been located at WTC.
For over a month now I have been setting aside canned goods, bottled water, batteries, lamp oil, and a few other odds and ends. I gently encouraged my mother, 72, to do the same. It’s not panic, it’s precaution. Having a change of clothes in my car seems prudent, in case there’s an emergency.
I’m glad I don’t work in a mail room, (I used to, in a former job), because going to work every day with the threat of a potentially killer disease showing up in the next envelope you open, is not the way I want to work.
Of course, you can’t hear what terrorists are saying about wiping out as many Americans as possible, and not feel a little like you are marked with a giant red white and blue bulls-eye.
Almost everyone has a friend in the financial industry, the media or the government. My mother’s whole side of the family was in the service, I work in the financial industry, and have friends both in the media and government.
He’s like the bully in a school-yard. He hit unexpectedly, then delights, usually while hidden away with some thug buddies, in the terror and dread he’s stricken in the hearts of his target. And just like schoolyard bully he doesn’t have the courage to face his victims should they stand back up and confront him.
And the tactics, even though Americans still go about their lives, work. He’s made us feel vulnerable , like a kid getting home from school and into his room and finding his teddy bear torn to shreds on his pillow, and realizing that the bully has not only entered, but abused his domain.
Every time I see the news, or, at work, mail a letter to a forwarding address that used to be the WTC, the dread lurches in my heart.
Along with thing I want to say to Osama, like, congratulations. He put fear into me that was not there before. However, he also put rage there. I never rooted for full-scale military action before either. Yes, he’s change me on many levers. And made what used to be conflicts in lads far away, up close and personal.