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Escape from New York

Yesterday morning I read about a doomed conference breakfast held at the top of the World Trade Centre. The conference supposedly started at 8:30 am on 11th September. No doubt the conference organisers and speakers would have arrived before then. I shuddered at the possibility that I might have been an attendee.

Had it been a year ago, I would have definitely attended. Back then I was a conference junkie but soon reached an overdose after scouring the market. Although I knew about this conference, I had not bothered to read the details. When I was planning my schedule for New York, I dismissed the thought of going to this financial technologies conference in favour of spending quality time with my new colleagues. If I had attended, I would have arrived early to enjoy the magnificent view and first class breakfast.

Many other people had closer calls than I. But I'm sure we all went through the post-event scenario analysis: what if I had been there?

What would you do if you were caught in the top floors?

The scenario analyses I conducted in my head got the better of me. On the other side of the island lay thousands of bodies buried under tons of rubble. I wanted desperately to get out of this island of the dead and the distraught.

Although I did not personally know anyone that was affected, I felt guilty that I was alive. I was also caught in a decision dilemma of whether I should stay or go. Should I try to leave the country and return to London where I would feel safer? Should I volunteer and share the pain of others? What should I do?

The foreign airlines were still being checked for security clearance. Their phone lines were engaged for two days. I might as well as extend my stay here and make up those unproductive work days this week.

After making this executive decision, I felt better.

And so, at 6 pm I left the office and took the New Jersey Transit, leaving the Manhattan that has held me captive and the fear and tension of the past few days.

Away from the skyscrapers and the maddening crowd....

14 September 2001 Friday