Collapse by Kirsty Grant
Tuesday morning meetings were always soul destroying. At 9am every week fourteen team leaders, three senior managers and a store manager crammed themselves into an office the size of a cupboard and it was no tea break. Inevitably, someone would be drunk or late. On the particular morning I am about to talk about, the late comer was Brian, team leader of the electrical and entertainment department. The store manager shouted an obnoxious call for him over the tannoy system and a few eyebrows lifted around the room, it was clear this was not going to a happy social gathering.
Brian rushed into the office out of breath; the journey from the entertainment department to the back of the store and up two flights of stairs took four minutes and 35 seconds, I timed that the following week. Adding customers and staff into the equation Brian must have took to his heels when he heard the angry tannoy call. He didn’t even apologise for his lateness, he stood looking at us with his hand still on the door handle.
“The twin towers have been hit, come on, you need to see this.”
My first thought was that a display had been knocked over and then more alarmingly, that a bulk stack of electrical goods had been robbed by a large group of shoplifters whilst the entire store management team were in a meeting. The latter seemed the most reasonable. In retrospect, I realise how ignorant I was in my retail bubble. The store in question was a large store with only one security guard who doubled up at a fire marshal for the 262 staff that worked there. 262 staff who depended on one man to guide them to safety between the hours of 9am and 5pm, after those hours no fires were permitted otherwise they had to fend for themselves.
Most of the managers got to their feet and followed Brian downstairs. These were typical shop floor managers, more worried about stock than people. I lagged behind, I worked in the office and shoplifting wasn’t my problem, I am more of a people person. I saw that a crowd had gathered in the middle of the store and I pushed my way forward to see what the commotion was. I was surrounded by at least twenty-five television sets all showing the same picture. There was no sound, just images. A large building that I thought I recognised from a movie or some American TV shows, had been hit by a plane. They played the crash over and over again. The banner at the bottom of the largest TV read: 8.48AM PLANE CRASHES INTO NORTH TOWER. I don’t think I felt shocked at that moment, it looked more like a stunt than something that was happening in real life. As I watched the live footage of the smoke belching from the top of the north tower a second plane hit the south tower. It was 9.16am, I know that because I saw it repeated on TV all day and all night for weeks. I sat on a large plinth of A4 paper and stared at the horrific images on screen. I couldn’t move. I was trembling all over but I couldn’t stop watching. I needed to see it. The images, the details remain etched in my memory:
9.50am tower one collapsed
10.29am tower two collapsed.
Dust, smoke, ashes, ruin
2,753 innocent people died. 2,753 people remain in my thoughts. You see, I am a people person.
These are my own personal memories of 911. My heart aches when I think of those who died, those who lost loved ones and those who knew someone who lost a loved one. My deepest sympathies to the mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, sons, daughters, friends, lovers, husbands, wives, partners, colleagues, and all of those affected. R.I.P.
Please feel free to add your own memories of this dreadful day.