It’s been 8 years and we all still miss and mourn our friends, neighbors, and countrymen from 9/11, but it occurs to me that I have a unique opportunity this year to pass on a story. Since I didn’t have this blog until this years anniversary I have never really typed this out. I’ve told some friends and family, but it was just a story like many others had, about the inspiration of someone from “that day”. Since I DO have this chance, this year, I will pass it on to you.
My story is about a relatively ordinary guy….a good guy, who was making his way at my company and through life, trying to climb the ladder and find whatever it is that brings you happiness or success. It took me from 9/12/2001 and beyond to realize, further, what a good guy this was. I was attending my first Team Leader meeting at APC and wasn’t sure what to expect. It was 9/x/2001 is all I remember and I sat next to Shawn Nassaney. I remember he smiled and pulled out the chair for me, so I guess he had assigned me the seat. The meeting was uneventful except for the fact that there was some contentious issue, which I found out later, always existed at these meetings, and everyone was riled up about something. Throughout the meeting Shawn kept joking with everyone and jabbing me when things got heated. He would lean over and make a comment like “Watch this, I’ll really get them thinking” and then he would take whatever counterpoint was out there to take. After the meeting he said to me “Stick with me…I’ll show you how things work around here”. We traded a few jokes and he said that they would have to figure it out without him anyhow because he was going on vacation and it would do them all some good to work it out without him. We had no idea how much we would have to do without him and how much we could have used him and that quick wit and smile.
When 9/11 rolled around it was just another day, just another morning, when the reports started coming in. I had heard on the radio coming into work that a small plane had hit one of the World Trade Center towers and by the time I got to my desk the whole disaster was becoming a lot clearer and scarier. We all remained glued to the computers and TV’s hoping that what we were hearing wasn’t going to get even worse. We all know by now that the day kept getting worse as time went on. I also couldn’t help but notice that some of the other managers and team leaders kept huddling together and meeting in offices and rooms with each other. Being the new guy I kind of figured that my best move was to let them do the heavy stuff and I would work out on the floor and try to keep everyone as calm as I could. I have no idea what time it was or the exact words that were used but everyone on the call center floor was told to put down the headsets and to gather around. The call center director at the time was a 6 foot plus, big, good natured, outgoing sales guy, and as he climbed up on a desk I couldn’t help but notice that he wasn’t himself. He was slumped and looked defeated. He managed to tell us that they had been working all morning to try to dispel the theory that any APC personnel had been involved in any way in the attacks but he had some bad news. Through tears and choked up speech we learned that Shawn Nassaney had been on United flight 175 with his girlfriend Lynn Goodchild and from there I have no idea what he said really. I don’t think I have ever been in a bigger daze than that day. I couldn’t wait to get home to Jen and Sara and possibly hole up in the house until things looked like they might be interesting again.
In the days and years following 9/11/2001 I have always used my memory of Shawn and my brief time with him as a sign that I should not miss opportunities to enjoy life, have fun, and love my family. I learned over the years that this was how he lived his brief life and it has always allowed me to get through subsequent 9/11 anniversaries. I get sad, mad, depressed and all those other things, but I also take time to smile on 9/11 and know that Shawn and the others have inspired so many people to be better and happier. Thanks Shawn.