The Desk

September 11, 2008

Yes, I Remember

Filed under: Hostile Workplace,Morale — Yvonne LaRose @ 8:41 PM
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This day has been inching its way into existence all year long. It shouldn’t be surprising that various formal and informal observances occurred throughout these United States. But for me, the observance was definitely non-traditional and completely unplanned. The spontaneity of the remembrance of what was happening in Hollywood in 2001 compared with what was happening in a run-down house in Jefferson Park in 2008.

As this date approached, I found myself looking around at my environment and considering the existence in my neighborhood and where I live compared with what people in Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan endure on a daily basis. It was interesting to reflect on the fact that those people live each and every minute of their lives with the hovering threat of a bomb, missile, or bullet completely crumbling everything about their world or taking them out of it. Life is tenuous but people are able to find some type of joy and celebration in order to make living full of Life.

Some put theirselves under the influence of narcotics in order to withstand the stress. Valium can be bought from the corner drug store for pennies. Each day is an exercise in sublimating reality in order to survive to the next sunrise with most of your sanity. In Jefferson Park, many of the residents do likewise. They see their lives as entities put on hold until they die. So they wait. So numbed are their uneducated minds that the wait seems to be longer than Santa’s arrival for a three-year-old.

Life in those far off places, where we now have troops mustered to protect the American way of life, and the accompanying lifestyles are not that different from the circumstances of the denizen of Jefferson Park. The only difference is that the bombs and missiles aren’t as imperative a threat and the bullets fly a little less frequently. But the hand-to-hand combat, the guerrilla vocabulary, the instinct reactions that have replaced reason are all there. Some are completely oblivious to not only national news but local as well.

In 2001, I forced myself to make all of the rounds that were scheduled for that day. The bus took forever to arrive so I walked up the hill to deliver an envelope. And that was when I learned that the plane crashes were not the end of the story. That was also when I learned that downtown (my next stop) was closed. And I remember considering the Hollywood transvestite prostitutes. They, like the denizen of Jefferson Park, were oblivious to any of the events occurring outside of their particular bus stop bench. The only thing that was important to them was where the next $5 was going to come from and how to get it.

This year I remembered the 2003 observance of the events of this date at church. It was close to a month-long observation of domestic violence as it affects the workplace and I was hosting the event. With the attack, I saw the parallels of the two evils and created a chart that compared domestic violence to terrorism. It was a popular chart. It helped people get a sense of the two situations and put things into perspective.

This year, I find myself living involved in several case studies on group dynamics, management and leadership, ethics, morale, abuse of power, fear, signs of lack of power, the consequences of either having no rules or else not enforcing them. This year, I find myself living in my own Iraq and dealing with five terrorists who are all under my roof. Each week one of them takes their turn at inflicting some sort of brutality upon me. Sometimes it’s twice in the week. Whichever frequency, the abuse continues. The police have stopped protecting me. The landlord doesn’t seem to respond to the messages I send him. Thus, it’s up to me to determine how best to defend myself from further harm. This is training on how to handle a hostile situation and then teach others.

While rather simplistic, one of the things that helps get through each day is doing something simple or reading a joke. It’s fortunate that I’m freelance. If I were on the clock, my innui would be considered failure to work. I would be a cost to the company and others would not understand why my attention span is so short. They would not understand why the slightest incident (say, getting bumped by a backpack and losing your footing) will cause the me to go into self-defense mode, ready to fight to defend and protect self. There would be no comprehension of why the mood is so surly nor why there are so many mistakes in the work product.

Dazed and stunned was what we all felt in 2001. “How could this have happened here?” we collectively puzzled.

And those precious lives that were lost that day are also a pity. Many of those caught in the first hits were the people who had worked all night and were about to leave work to go home or else were those who opened the buildings to prepare them for the thousands who would stream through the doors. They were merely doing what they were supposed to do. They were the simply folk who formed the strong base of our commerce. But on September 11, 2001, they became not only martyrs but also national heroes, especially those on Flight 77.

Yes, I remember September 11, 2001. In a way, I probably remember is everyday, just at those in the Middle East live their existences. The numbness that we felt for a week or more after the attacks was blessed. The numbness I feel is comforting but I realize it is not normal. I’m glad of the friends and support system I’ve managed to build. It is through these outlets that I have the ability to focus on things outside of my self and look to the more remarkable.

I remember September 11. I’m reliving September 11. And I will get through it with fire and victory.

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