Friday, August 19, 2005

ten days ago, 5 years ago, 20 years ago, 35 years ago.

My wife and I took the obligatory tour bus around New York on a hot Sunday afternoon. Fortunately the wife, Dasa, let us backtrack a bit so that I could visit the World Trade Center. Is that what they call it these days?


5 years ago, on September 11, We were in a Dodavka (A Fiat van) that we bought to move our things to Belgrade where I was starting a job. We were driving to Hradec Kralove in Moravia, eastern Czech Republic, to correct some paper work on the van. We heard the news on BBC. We spent the night in a hotel there only so I could watch the buildings come down, again and again.

My wife calls them 'The Twins' since it is a direct translation from how the Czechs describe the Twin Towers. I never used that name for them.

20 years ago I worked there, for a commodities futures broker doing back office work and then some trading. I worked at the bottom, in one of the cluster buildings. Many people don't know that there were World trade Center one, two, and also 3, 4 and 5... I think that's right. Please feel free to correct me. I cannot recall the address of the smaller, six story buildings that were 3, 4, and 5. (Was there a six?) These smaller buildings probalby would look like the green leaves at the bottom of a tall tulip, in relation to the Twins.

Somewhat wierd feeling being there. The photo shows me directly in front of the fences that surround the gaping hole. In the distance you can see World Financial Center,that was built while I worked in NY from 1986 to 1989. Our company eventually moved to one of those two buildings. One friend still works for the firm and I spoke to him after the attacks. He was across the street when the planes hit. I seem to recall him using the words 'Savages' when describing the terrorists. His father happened to be one of the builders that constructed the World Trade Center. He was a steel worker, and his last name was 'Steel'. And his son worked for the commodities trading house as a metals analyst. I was always fond of this irony.

I was born in a place called Rockville Centre, out on Long Island, but my family moved west when I was 13. This town was hit hard by the attacks because one guy from Cantor Fitzgerald kept getting jobs for his buddies and brothers of his buddies. 35 years ago I even remember on kid named Sherry who was 4 or 5 when I was 9 or 10. Just a younger kid from the neighborhood. He died in the attack working at the World Trade Center.

My sister told me of one of her old clients that died there. A Russian guy name Igor or something like that. My sis knew 3 or 4 people that died there.

Also another guy named Brennan, from Rockville Center. One of the big catholic families like ours. He also died there.

So what do I feel? Nothing too melodramatic. Just a sense of connection to the place. Memories of getting a shish kebab on the street (something we called Cat-on-a-stick due to the dubious nature of the meat), or a feel-awful, one trader's nickname for the falafel. Or Ziti (Begziti?), or pizza, or even the late night chinese that had the dead cockroach in it.

Memories of the subway ride that came into the deep cavernous station under the Trade Center. The tense feeling leaving work after having a bad day trading. I wasn't a good trader, to be honest. My boss once told me that I like the idea of being a trader, but didn't like trading; a candid and accurate assessment. But I also loved being in New York. I kind of wish I expolited the opportunities I had since I worked for a good part of the time, from 2 in the afternoon until midnight (trading with Australia and Asian counterparties). Only a few times did I enjoy late nights in the city that never sleeps. So called.

And now, going back to NY to visit my sister, I feel a real stranger in there. Taking tour busses, afterall.


1 comment:

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