What I Learned on September 11

It was a PowerPoint presentation. On the darkest day in modern American history, the single focus of my attention was a series of slides on my hard drive. I was visiting a client's office and preparing to deliver a pitch to two existing and three potential customers. To this day I still recall that I was on page three, switching back and forth between two graphics under consideration. One of my associates walked hurriedly into the room and instructed me to "tune in" to CNN on my laptop. A plane had crashed into the World Trade Center.

It is only with seven years perspective and having had the question put to me for purposes of this column that I realize exactly how small and self-centered I had become. My reception of the news was accompanied by the smallest of shrugs. This is the modern age in which we live. On occasion, planes fall from the sky and people lose their lives. In more horrible circumstances, they hit populated areas. It was only a matter of time before one struck a skyscraper, reminiscent of the foggy day in 1945 when William Smith parked a B-25 in the 79th floor of the Empire State Building. I couldn't think of anyone in my family who had been planning to fly that morning, so I returned to my work. In a matter of moments the news was brushed from my attention and the upcoming proposal consumed me once again.

Having finished the piece, I packed up my computer and moved to the media center where the presentation was to take place. I found two of my colleagues who were in on the bid staring at the wide screen display. Another moment of eternal embarrassment ensued. "This is a big bid, guys. I think we can find something better to do than watch television." I was ignored. A second plane had struck and the day's business events were quickly canceled as the news continued to roll in.