What I Still Remember 20 Years After September 11, 2001
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What I Still Remember 20 Years After September 11, 2001

I was not in New York on 9-11. I was living in London at the time and I was in my office. I remember a woman coming down the hall and saying: “Aren’t you from New York?” and then telling me that the World Trade Center had been hit by a plane. I remember calling an ex-girlfriend in the South Tower and my best friend from high school in the World Financial Center. Both told me that the first attack had just occurred moments earlier and described seeing a body falling from the towers. I told both to get the hell out of there and I am glad that I did. My best friend from high school certainly would have been trampled in the commotion that followed had he not followed my advice.

My other memories relate mainly to a day exactly seven months earlier, February 11, 2001, when I interviewed for a job at Cantor Fitzgerald on the top floor of the North Tower.

I vividly remember going through security unlike anything I had previously experienced to get into an office building. I was given a badge at reception with my photo on it (this later became commonplace in office buildings worldwide, but was a procedure that was only in place at the World Trade Center in 2001).

I also remember needing to change elevators at the 72nd floor in order to get to the top of the building. Somehow in my mind that felt odd and uncomfortable as if the building was built higher than technology would allow. Once at 105, looking out the narrow windows and seeing helicopters flying over lower Manhattan below me also seemed odd. So too did the unusual sound the urinals and sinks made in the bathroom because of the way in which water was being sucked up to that height.

I remember walking by the Cantor trading floor at 8:30AM and being amazed by the frenzy of activity that was occurring in the clouds before the market open. I remember the faces. I remember walking down the hall to get water and encountering a grey haired trader emphatically describing a play from his son’s baseball game to a large group of his colleagues. They all made eye contact with me as I walked past and wished me a good day. I imagine that they would have all been there by 8:30AM some seven months later.

I also remember the smiles and the kindness of the assistants and receptionists who greeted me that day. One receptionist explained to me that the man with whom I would be meeting next was one of the gentlest and nicest people I would ever meet. In the weeks that followed 9-11, I read both of their obituaries in the New York Times.

I kept the photo badge that I was given in the lobby on February 11, 2001 for many years, but I threw it out later when I decided it was an inappropriate keepsake. Now, I have finally written my memories here. This is better.

Ari Socolow
Ari Socolow: Ari Socolow is the Chief Economist and Editor-in-Chief at BestCashCow. He is particularly interested in issues relating to bank transparency and the climate crisis. Since co-founding BestCashCow in 2005, Ari has been frequently cited in the media as an expert on local and national savings accounts, CD products, mortgage and loan products and credit card rewards products.

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