Graduating from Seton Hall University with a Finance Degree in 1998, I worked with one other prestigious investment bank before I started with Lehman Brothers during Feb. 2000.
Lehman Brothers before 9/11 had two sites in the NY / NJ area. One site was in Jersey City, NJ and the other site was 3 World Financial Center (NYC). I started working in Jersey City’s exchange place building in NJ (right across the river from the WTC), and later moved to the World Financial Center.
Known as a global powerhouse in the investment banking world, Lehman was known to switch employees between their locational buildings. At the end of 2000, I moved over to the World Financial Center. My time there was short as Lehman ended up expanding their locations purchasing three floors in 1 WTC. Floors 38-40.
During January of 2001, I moved into 1 WTC 40th Floors.
The World Trade Center was an awesome building. Life could not have been better. I was working with one of the most respected investment banks not only on Wall Street, but also in the World. To top it off, I was in the tallest and most prestigous building in the city; the World Trade Center. I thought to myself pre 9/11 how lucky I was to have all of these nice things. I mean I actually thought to myself and would think that I was making it in life successfully (which I was and am). After all I reasoned, I work in NYC in the World Trade Center.
I would enjoy walking from the trade center to the World Financial Center to go to meetings. Sometimes I would even take the ferry from the World Trade Center sites to go to our NJ building. Getting off the ferry in Jersey (only a 5 min. boat ride across the river), I would always look back at the city and notice the WTC towers. It was the most spectacular view of those buildings and I always felt happy knowing I worked there. Being only 25 at the time (now I am 26), it was an impressive site. I knew what it meant to work in those buildings. To me it symbolized my successes in life because I had to work so hard in college to get there and earn a position with my company.
During 9/10, I was at my usual office at the WTC. Time was 5:00 pm, and my manager comes by to tell me she needs some reports done. I thought to myself, how I would have had these reports done already had I not gotten the Chicken Pox 1 month prior.
She looks at me and tells me “I do not care when you stop in NJ tomorrow (9-11) either in the morning or the afternoon, but I need the reports done.”
Normally I would just setup a meeting in our NJ office in the afternoon because I would leave the WTC and hop a ferry to go to NJ. This way, I could leave early from work since I live in NJ anyway. However, I thought to myself that if I setup the meeting in the morning, I would have enough time to finish what I needed to do in case unexpected situations arise. So I setup a meeting with my co-worker to meet me in NJ the next morning. The whole time, I did not know that I was just making the most important decision in my life.
That night I worked late until 8:45pm, not knowing that the next day was going to be hell. Not knowing in my mind that the towers would not be standing any longer in 13 or so hours. Leaving the World Trade Center that night I took the path back to NJ. In 50mins (the time it would take me to get the path and then ride a bus back home) I was back home.
That night, was also my friend’s 25th birthday. We decided to go to Hoboken, a city in NJ right across from the city. Hoboken is also known for the place where Frank Sinatra was born and the first baseball game was played. Today, Hoboken is known for it’s incredible night life where the young go out and spend there times in clubs / bars. That night, we went to several bars in Hoboken, I remembered in my mind to ensure I stop in the NJ site the next morning and not go to the WTC in the afternoon.
The path I took stopped at four stops in NJ before hitting the WTC. Once I would make it to the path in the morning after getting off the bus, the train ride would only take me 18mins flat to hit the trade center. The place I was going in Jersey City was exactly the last stop in NJ before hitting the WTC on the next stop.
During that night, Hoboken was fun. The weather was nice. Going from one bar to another, the night life was very nice. Every so often as we would walk to another place, I looked towards NYC, and there was the WTC. The whole time, I did not know that it would be the last evening that the towers would be standing.
The morning of 9/11 I woke up knowing to stop at our Jersey Office. Taking the path, I stopped at the last station in NJ. I remember pushing people aside to get out of the train to get off. The time was exactly 8:30am. If I had not gone off that train, I would have been at the WTC in 3 mins from that time. Anyway, I walked up the stairs to the lobby and then outside. The whole time not knowing that there would probably would have been people in my train that would die that day in 16 mins. As I got out, I looked across the river at the WTC and there it was. I thought to myself that I would go take care of this meeting and then I would be at the WTC in the PM. I also thought to myself how beautified a day it was.
Then, I went to my building at 8:35 am (then it was the tallest building in NJ) and proceeded to the 29th Floor. There I met my co-worker. She earlier stopped at the WTC since she lives in NYC before coming to meet me in NJ.
To sum up the rest. I did not notice the first plane hit, but I did see the second plane. I saw it clear as day. It was one of the most gruesome sites I will ever witness. I saw everything perfectly and clearly because the building I was in was exactly across from the WTC some ½ miles away. It was the meeting that saved my life. Sometimes I ask myself why I was so lucky and some 3,000 people were not. However the more I think about it, the more frustrated I get, but I do know I am l alive and one lucky person.