Yesterday once again demonstrated to me the true Great Divide in the country. I managed to overcome my anger rather quickly, considering. But I wonder, how do WE fight this hideous division between us?
I work for a child of a very large company-multiple international offices-all started in America, by Americans.
Not one word about yesterday. Not one damn word. Not from management, Human Resources, Corporate, or co-workers.
People were so uncomfortable about the possibility of an answer that they didn't ask why some of us spent the day with red, swollen eyes-they just avoided anyone who looked as though they might be grieving.
No-one was encouraged to pay silent respect at 0846, 0903, 0959, or 1029, or when the planes hit the Pentagonand that somehow forever beautiful Pennsylvania field.
Because my personal grief is connected to the WTC, at 0846 I stopped my work and bowed my head. The guy in the next cubicle looked at me over the low divider between our desks then looked away and went on with his work. We were first into work-we are on a special project that brings us in early, and sends us home late.
I could not, could not, could not keep the images of those last final moments of the passengers as they were brutally disabused of the notion that if they just behaved...
I thought I might lose control right there in the office, in public; in front of my co-worker, whose disdain for the Bush administration has caused him to agree with others of my co-workers that maybe the government had something to do with the attack.
By 0900, our co-workers were arriving. At 0903, as I again paused in my work and watched the clock, my co-workers gamboled on in their usual morning fashion-fetching coffee, replaying the football game and guessitmating the NBA season highlights to come.
It outraged me.
It was very difficult to control my anger and my disappointment that so many other people-strangers who lost no-one but were grieving in that moment for those who did-strangers who were joining hand and heart all across the world in memory of those who'd died just because they were in America-these strangers could extend themselves, and could be so completely ignored by these angry young people I was surrounded by yesterday. For very, very quick moment I wanted to scream, then I thought I might quietly ask them please to just take the conversation somewhere else, please...But I couldn't find the energy.
I knew that I might hear some of the comments I'd heard down in Dothan from people like my boss-"What do you mean, close the office?! Why?!"
Some of my tenants, so-called friends (not that I was ever really friends enough with anyone after the divorce to warrant an invitation to Thanksgiving dinner...to me that is the measure of friendship, do you care enough to spend sacred days with them?), other business people
"Well, it isn't that big a deal...it doesn't really mean anything to us...after all, it didn't happen here, did it-it happened up there in New York."
So at 0957 I left my cubicle, my office, and went out into the courtyard/smoking area-blessedly alone through 0959 and until 1010.
I think that 11th September should be a day of national mourning-no school, no work, stores closed, banks shuttered; and all houses of worship open to shelter the grieving, to educate the children.
Out of respect. I think it is a no-brainer.
Because on that day in 2001, nearly three thousand people died for one and only one reason-they were in America.
And I absolutely hate the cynicism that has effectively erased the honarable memory of all the good people who 'voted with their feet' to give every American, and every wannabe, the chance to be so disrespectful, so cavalier, so self-centered, and so damn angry.
Ethan Allen and His Mountain Boys, Nathaniel Hale, and yes, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin and John Adams, the poor men at Valley Forge, and all the way up to and including those poor men at Anzio and Guadacanal, and..
And John Q. Public.
You really are a lucky fellow, Mr. Smith. I wish to God that you appreciated that.
Franky it hurts that you don't, and it hurts that you think it is funny that it hurts.
But what hurts us both is that you've managed to silence our voices that might have helped you to open your hearts; that you've turned a cold shoulder to the grief-stricken, the hungry, the helpless, the homeless-and that a great many of you hope to profit by them in myriad ways.
If only we could bridge this Great Divide of anger and enmity between us!
Somehow we all managed to get through the day; word spread that I had some reason to be in need of space, and then about three or four in the afternoon, in the process of handling a customer request I looked down and saw that the man's name, listed last name first, was, so help me God-Mohamed, Atta.
I almost fainted. I showed it to my superviser, and a customer service rep I knew I could count on to serve only as soemone to reassure me that I had not lost my mind. They were stunned. I am not sure, really, what to make of that one yet.
On the way home last night I had to put air in my tire and the air hose was not connecting well; as I fumbled, the woman in line behind me fumed and gave voice to her impatience.
Her car windows were down; she had a young teenager in the mini-van with her and I wondered what this poor kid was learning courtesy of his American soccer mom...
What happened next was surreal-the man pumping gas at the next island thought she was addressing him; they started a shouting match that quickly escalating into offers to settle things by fisticuffs!
When he dropped the gas nozzle and started toward the van I called, "Let it go, man, she's not worth it-she was hassling me, too. Just let it go." I begged him as I put my little KIA between the two of them.
He went back to his gas, and she pulled in to the air hose slot I'd just left.
What a truly hideous day the 11th of September is becoming in this country.