15 years ago…
On September 10, 2001, I was working in the graphics department of an asset management firm located in midtown Manhattan. My graphics colleague from the Atlanta office, Jose, was in town for marketing and branding strategy meetings.
As he left the office that evening, he told me about his plans to visit the observation deck of the World Trade Center the next morning before coming to work. Jose was an architecture buff. He was thrilled at the opportunity to see Manhattan from such a rare perspective. The weather forecast was for bright, blue skies.
The next morning, at 8:46 a.m., the first plane flew into the North Tower.
At 9:03 a.m., the second plane hit the South Tower. The tower with the observation deck.
Our offices were on a high floor on 6th Avenue and 46th Street. The employees gathered in the main conference room, which had sweeping, unobstructed views of the southern tip of Manhattan. We watched in stunned silence as one tower fell. Then the other.
It would be up to our manager to contact Jose’s family in Atlanta to tell them of the tragic misfortune. He was a young guy. Really bright. And so happy to be visititing New York.
At 11:00, Jose walked into our office.
He had overslept.
The hotel maid had drawn the blackout blinds—something he never does himself, preferring to rise with the sun. When his alarm went off at 6:00 a.m. the room was dark. He was delirious from being woken from a sound sleep. He thought he’d set his alarm incorrectly and that it was still the middle of the night, so he went back to sleep.
While brushing his teeth and cursing himself for having missed the chance to visit the observation deck, a special bulletin came on the TV. He sat in his hotel room, transfixed to the TV, not realizing we all thought he’d perished.
I hadn’t spoken to Jose in many years. I reached out to him this past weekend just to confirm I didn’t imagine this happening. It’s all true. He left graphic design and now works designing medical devices at M.I.T.
I saw Springsteen perform earlier this year and sent a couple concert pics to my pal, Sharon Florin, an artist who specializes in New York City architecture and is a yuge Springsteen fan. She was inspired and made two fetching oil paintings based on the photos. That’s my photo on the left and her interpretation on the right.
I like the paintings better. The photos look too stark. Too ‘real’. I prefer the implied blur of the paint.