It’s been almost 10 years since the tumultuous Tuesday morning when many of us scurried in total panic through the streets of New York City on September 11th, wondering if we’d ever make it home to see our loved ones again. Devastatingly, thousands of us working or commuting close to The World Trade Center’s Twin Towers never even had a chance to escape. There are no memories that inhabit my brain with such crystal clear depiction as those from that gloomy morning. Yet in all the horror and shock I remember feeling that day, there is one positive thought—I saved the life of a woman who worked in one of the towers by simply asking her to come in and interview with me at my mid-town office. It was coincidence, I know, but that job seeker sent me a thank you card for years on the anniversary of the terrorist attacks. That job seeker’s saved life has been a source of great satisfaction for me throughout the years. Yet the death of Osama bin Laden has not brought me such satisfaction. Perhaps, his downfall has brought me some peace of mind and an element of closure and justice. However, in addition to many of the broad changes that have occurred due to the terrorist attacks of 9-11, such as the creation of the TSA (Travel Security Act) and our New York skyline being changed forever to name a couple, some work-life ways will never quite be the same even with Osama’s body buried at sea.
1. Human Loss
We’ve lost brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, children, and friends of New York City. Since other than the crew and passengers who perished on American Flight 11 and United Flight 175, the remaining 2800 or so victims were mostly New Yorkers (with the exception of some tourists), the human cost of their shortened lives will continue to impact New York City for one to two generations. The loss of their domestic contribution coupled with the loss of their economic contribution (as determined by their average expected working years—25 to 65 years of age—times their expected increased earnings based on their salary in 2001, multiplied by the number of victims) is equivalent to billions of dollars lost.
2. Building Canvassing
Gone are the days of door-to-door canvassing, peddling or soliciting for business in commercial buildings. Sure, this is a nuisance receptionists can live without, but for sales professionals, the tight security has placed a huge limitation on their livelihood.
3. Wearing Heels to Work
Its one thing to wear heels to work, but it’s a whole other story to not have an extra pair of escape or “running” shoes somewhere in your work space. I’ve never been one to wear sneakers to work, but ever since September 11th I keep an extra pair of comfy shoes in case I have to run for my life.
4. Commercial Space
Small, mid, and large corporate tenants have moved to the outer boroughs or out of New York City altogether—to New Jersey which offers tax breaks as incentive for corporate relocation. When I went shopping for 2,800 sq. ft. of corporate space in midtown, I specified that I wanted a floor level no higher than 5, in case I ever had to jump out of a window. The realtor shared that I wasn’t the only one who had that wish. Perhaps, that’s why I ended up with space on the 15th floor.
5. Suspicious Packages
“Paranoia will destroy ‘a!” Well, there’s good reason to feel paranoid. Sitting next to someone on the train or entering an elevator with someone carrying a “suspicious” package is unfortunately risky these days and in future days. So what if they’re dressed in a brown uniform similar to the UPS guy? You can’t ever be too careful.
6. Leaving your office without ID
Now you actually have to look good in your employee photo ID because you actually have to show it when you enter or leave your building. Meandering for a quick Starbuck’s run sans ID is no longer a freedom we can enjoy.
7. Survival kit
Similar to a first aid kit, the survival kit has all of the essentials to get you through a one-two night emergency, should there be a lock-down in your office or a “run for your life” stampede. It’s comprised of bottle(s) of water, candles, towels, towels, blankets, flashlights, underwear, socks and non-perishable goods. For some this was just a fad that was stirred right after the 9-11 frenzy. I still have a survival kit that I freshen up from time to time, and I highly recommend everyone have one.
8. Commuting, Dining, Shopping and Entertaining Underground
There’s a whole world of underground dining, shopping and entertaining in New York City. Well there’s a whole world of above ground dining, shopping and entertaining in New York City too—and that’s the world in which I choose to spend my money. Its bad enough I have no choice but to commute into Grand Central from Westchester. Believe me; I end up with sweaty palms as soon as the train enters the underground tunnel. The moment the doors open, I make a mad dash for the street level.
Oh, how I missed my database of clients and candidates as 9-11 was pre-Blackberry days. I couldn’t get myself to go back to Manhattan for a week and my business was paralyzed. Quite frankly, it was paralyzed for about 18 months after and then came the recession. One thing I along with other company owners have had to learn, and have had to pay dearly is for back-up storage of data files. This is an expense business owners can no longer skimp on to ensure protection against cyber attacks.
10. Use of Public Bathrooms
Public bathrooms in places like Grand Central Station, Penn Station and Port Authority were closed for safety reasons right after the 9-11 terrorist attacks. While they’ve reopened, I for one, am beyond skeptical to use a public bathroom in any of these venues since they are not well monitored for privacy reasons. Still when you’ve gotta go, you’ve gotta go; not exactly the privacy and security one needs to go with any sort of tranquility.
Though mass celebrations have taken place right outside of my Manhattan office in rejoice of Osama bin Laden’s fatality, I rejoice in the safety of Americans—of New Yorkers. Unfortunately, bin Laden’s death will not turn back the clock or reinstate the thousands of lives that were lost or the countless ways our work-lives have been changed for good. Fortunately, what his life and death have accomplished is to gather us into a nation that is determined to gain our civil freedom back.