|December 31, 2001, Esquire Magazine, What I've Learned: Michael Wright, 11:00 PM, By Cal Fussman,|
At 8:48 on the morning of September 11, Michael Wright was a thirty-year-old account executive working on the eighty-first floor of the World Trade Center. Two hours later, he was something else. The story of his escape is the fastest 3,863 words you will ever read.
Up to that day, I'd had a Brady Bunch, cookie-cutter, beautiful life. I now know what it's like to have a 110-story building that's been hit by a 767 come down on my head. For better or for worse, it's part of my life. There are things I never thought I'd know that I now know.
It was as mundane a morning as you can imagine. Tuesdays are usually the days I go out to see clients and make sales calls. I get to my office at a quarter to eight, eat a bran muffin, drink a cup of coffee, and get my head straight for the day. I was actually in a good mood. A couple of us were yukking it up in the men's room. We'd just started sharing the eighty-first floor of 1 World Trade Center with Bank of America,and they'd put up a sign telling everyone to keep the bathroom clean. "Look at this," one of us said. "They move in and now they're giving us shit." It was about quarter to nine.
All of a sudden, there was the shift of an earthquake.People ask, "Did you hear a boom?" No. The way I can best describe it is that every joint in the building jolted. You ever been in a big old house when a gust of wind comes through and you hear all the posts creak? Picture that creaking being not a matter of inches but of feet. We all got knocked off balance. One guy burst out of a stall buttoning up his pants, saying, "What the fuck?" The flex caused the marble walls in the bathroom to crack.
You're thinking, Gas main. It was so percussive, so close. I opened the bathroom door, looked outside, and saw fire.
There was screaming. One of my coworkers, Alicia, was trapped in the women's room next door. The doorjamb had folded in on itself and sealed the door shut. This guy Art and another guy started kicking the shit out of the door, and they finally got her out.
There was a huge crack in the floor of the hallway that was about half a football field long, and the elevator bank by my office was completely blown out. If I'd walked over, I could've looked all the way down. Chunks of material that had been part of the wall were in flames all over the floor. Smoke was everywhere.
I knew where the stairs were because a couple of guys from my office used to smoke butts there. I started screaming, "Out! Out! Out!" The managers were trying to keep people calm and orderly, and here I was screaming, "The stairs! The stairs!"
We got to the stairwell, and people were in various states. Some were in shock; some were crying. We started filing down in two rows, fire-drill style. I'd left my cell phone at my desk, but my coworkers had theirs. I tried my wife twenty times but couldn't get through. Jenny had gone up to Boston with her mother and grandmother and was staying with my family. Our son was with her. Ben's six months old. It was impossible to reach them.
The thing that kept us calm on the stairs was the thought that what happened couldn't possibly happen. The building could not come down. After a while, as we made our way down, we started to lighten up. Yeah, we knew something bad had happened, but a fire doesn't worry you as much when you're thirty floors below it. I even made an off-color joke to my buddy Ryan. The intent was for only Ryan to hear, but things quieted down just as I said it, so everyone heard. I said, "Ryan, hold me."
He said, "Mike...I didn't know."
I said, "Well, we're all going to die, might as well tell you."
Some people were laughing, but not the guy in front of me. "I really think you should keep that humor down!" he said. I felt lousy. In hindsight, he may have known more than I did. Even though I'd seen physical damage, what I can't stress enough is how naive I was at that point.
Some floors we'd cruise down; others we'd wait for ten minutes. People were speculating, "Was it a bomb?" But we were all getting out. I didn't think I was going to die.
At the fortieth floor, we started coming in contact with firemen. They were saying, "C'mon, down you go! Don't worry, it's safe below." Most of them were stone-faced. Looking back, there were some frightened firemen.
When we got below the thirtieth floor, they started to bring down injured people from flights above. There was a guy with the back of his shirt burned off, a little burn on his shoulder. One woman had severe burns on her face.
We got down to the twentieth floor and a fireman said, "Does anyone know CPR?" I'm no longer certified, but I know it from college. That was ten years ago. You wouldn't want me on an EMT team, but if it comes down to saving somebody, I know how.
So me and this other guy volunteer. We helped this one heavy, older man who came down huffing and puffing, and we kept our eyes out for anyone else. "Do you need help? Do you need help?" Nobody needed help. The stairway became wide-open. It was time to go. The other guy took off in front of me. We were going pretty fast.
Have you ever been to the World Trade Center? There's a mezzanine level, then you go downstairs, which is subterranean, into this big mall. Our stairwell exited out onto that mezzanine level. At that point, I could look out across the plaza at 2 World Trade Center. That's when I realized the gravity of what had happened. I saw dead bodies everywhere, and none that I saw were intact. It was hard to tell how many. Fifty maybe? I scanned for a second and then focused on the head of a young woman with some meat on it. I remember my hand coming up in front of my face to block the sight. Then I took off. As I ran, people were coming out of another stairwell. I stopped and said, "Don't look outside! Don't look outside!" The windows were stained with blood. Someone who'd jumped had fallen very close to the building.
It felt like my head was going to blow up.
I made it to the stairwell and got down. The mall was in bad shape. It must have been from chunks of the plane coming down. Windows were smashed. Sprinklers were on.
I saw Alicia, the coworker who'd been trapped in the bathroom. She'd seen what I'd seen in the plaza and was traumatized. She was crying and moving slowly. I put my arm around her. Then there was another woman -- same thing. I put my arm around the two of them, saying, "C'mon. We gotta go. We gotta go."
We were moving through the mall toward the escalator that would take us back up to street level and out to Church Street. There were some emergency workers giving us the "head this way" sign. I think they were trying to get us as far away from the fire as possible and out toward Church Street and the Millenium Hilton hotel.
I got to the bottom of the escalator, and that's when I heard what sounded like a crack. That was the beginning of it. I ran to the top of the escalator as fast as I could and looked east, out toward Church Street at the Millenium hotel. The windows of the hotel are like a mirror, and in the reflection I saw Tower Two coming down.
How do you describe the sound of a 110-story building coming down directly above you? It sounded like what it was: a deafening tidal wave of building material coming down on my head. It appeared to be falling on the street directly where I was headed.
I turned to run back into the building. It was the instinctual thing to do. You're thinking, If you stay outside, you're running into it. If you go inside, it might not land there. So I turned and ran into the building, down into the mall, and that's when it hit. I dove to the ground, screaming at the top of my lungs, "Oh, no! Oh, no! Jenny and Ben! Jenny and Ben!" It wasn't a very creative response, but it was the only thing I could say. I was gonna die.
The explosion was extreme, the noise impossible to describe. I started crying. It's hard for me to imagine now that when I was on the ground awaiting my doom, hearing that noise, thousands of people were dying. That noise is a noise thousands of people heard when they died.
When it hit, everything went instantly black. You know how a little kid packs a pail of sand at the beach? That's what it was like in my mouth, my nose, my ears, my eyes -- everything packed with debris. I spat it out. I puked, mostly out of horror. I felt myself: Am I intact? Can I move? I was all there. There was moaning. People were hurt and crying all around me.
Then I had my second reckoning with death. I'm alive, yeah. But I'm trapped beneath whatever fell on top of me and this place is filled with smoke and dust. This is how I'm gonna die -- and this was worse. Because I was going to be cognizant of my death. I was going to be trapped in a hole and it was going to fill with smoke and they were going to find me like one of those guys buried in Pompeii.
I sat there thinking of my wife and son again. It wasn't like seeing the photos of Jenny and Ben that I had on my desk, though. The images I had were of them without me. Images of knowing that I'd never touch them again. As I sat there, thinking of them, I suddenly got this presence of mind: I gotta try to survive.
I tore off my shirt and wrapped it around my mouth and nose to keep some of the smoke out. I started crawling. It was absolutely pitch-black. I had no idea where I was crawling to, but I had to keep trying. It's haunting to think about it now.
I saw a light go on. I can't say I was happy, because I was horrified, but that light was hope.
Luckily, I was buried with a fireman. I got over to him and stuck to this guy like a sticky burr on a bear's ass. He was frazzled, but he had it a lot more together than I did. I was like, "What are we gonna do?" You can't imagine the ability to have rational thought at that point. I was purely in survival mode. It wasn't like, The smoke is traveling this way, so I'll go that way to the fresh air. It's whatever presents itself.
The fireman looked like a big Irish guy. Big, bushy mustache. He had an axe. He was looking at a wall, and it looked solid, but when he wiped his hand on it, it was glass, a glass wall looking into a Borders bookstore. There was a door right next to it. He smashed the door and it spread open.
Everyone gravitated to the light. Now there was a bunch of us. People were screaming. We got into Borders, went upstairs, and got through the doors heading outside. The dust was so thick, there was barely any light.
At this point, I still had no idea what was going on. I didn't know if we were being bombed or what. I didn't know if this was over or if it was just beginning.
I took off into the cloud. I crossed Church Street, and some light started coming in, and I could see a little bit. I saw a woman standing there, horrified, crying, lost. I stopped and said, "Are you okay? Are you okay?" She couldn't speak. I kept going.
I went along Vesey Street, using it as a guide. It started clearing up more and more, and I got to an intersection that was completely empty. That's where I saw one of the weirdest things -- a cameraman near a van with the NBC peacock on it, doubled over with his camera, crying.
I was all disoriented. I saw a turned-over bagel cart, and I grabbed a couple of Snapples. I used one to rinse out my mouth and wash my face. I drank some of the other. Then I started running again. It was chaos.
Even though I'd been around these streets a million times, I was completely lost. I looked up and saw my building, 1 World Trade Center, in flames. I looked for the other tower because I always use the two buildings as my North Star. I couldn't see it. I stood there thinking, It doesn't make sense. At that angle, it was apparent how devastating it all was. I looked up and said, "Hundreds of people died today." I was trying to come to terms with it -- to intellectualize it. My wife's family is Jewish, and her grandparents talk about the Holocaust and the ability of humans to be cruel and kill one another. This is a part of a pattern of human behavior, I told myself. And I just happen to be very close to this one.
Maybe it seems an odd reaction in hindsight. But I was just trying to grab on to something, some sort of logic or justification, rather than let it all overwhelm me. I was raised Irish-Catholic, and I consider myself a spiritual person. I did thank God for getting me out of there for my kid. But I also tend to be a pretty logical thinker. I'm alive because I managed to find a space that had enough support structure that it didn't collapse on me. I'm alive because the psycho in the plane decided to hit at this angle as opposed to that angle. I'm alive because I went down this stairwell instead of that stairwell. I can say that now. But at that moment, I was just trying to give myself some sanity.
I was still running when I heard another huge sound. I didn't know it at the time, but it was the other tower -- my tower -- coming down. A cop on the street saw me and said, "Buddy, are you okay?" It was obvious that he was spooked by looking at me. Aside from being caked with dust, I had blood all over me that wasn't mine. He was trying to help, but I could tell he was shocked by what he was seeing.
I was looking for a pay phone to call my wife, but every one I passed was packed. My wife never entertained for a minute that I could be alive. She had turned on the TV and said, "Eighty-first floor. Both buildings collapsed. There's not a prayer." It was difficult for her to look at Ben because she was having all these feelings. "Should I be grateful that I have him? Is he going to be a reminder of Mike every time I look at him?" At the time, these thoughts just go through your head.
Finally, I got to a pay phone where there was a woman just kind of looking up. I shoved her out of the way. I guess it was kind of harsh, but I had to get in touch with my family. I dialed Boston and a recording said, "Six dollars and twenty-five cents, please." So I pulled out a quarter and called my brother at NYU. I got his voice mail. "I'm alive! I'm alive! Call Jenny! Let everyone know I'm alive!" It was 10:34.
I started running toward where my brother Chris worked at NYU. I'm the last of six in my family. The two oldest are girls, the four youngest, boys. Chris is the second oldest above me. The classic older brother. The one who'd put you down and give you noogies. He probably would have had the best view of the whole thing going on. But he'd left his office, thinking, My brother is dead. He walked home to Brooklyn across the Manhattan Bridge, unable to look back.
On my way to NYU, I met this guy - -a stranger named Gary -- who had a cell phone. He tried and tried and couldn't get through to Boston. I said, "I gotta get to NYU" and left him. But he kept calling Boston and eventually got through to my family. At that point, four of my five siblings were at the house. My wife's father was on his way from New York with a black suit in the car.
The people at NYU took me in. They were great. I said, "I don't need anything. Just call my family." They kept on trying to get through. They couldn't, they couldn't. Finally, they got through.
I said, "Jenny, it's me." And there was a moan. It was this voice I'd never heard before in my life. And I was saying, "I'm alive. I'm alive. I love you. I love you. I love you." We cried and cried. Then the phone went dead.
At that point, I went into the bathroom to clean myself off, and suddenly I couldn't open my eyes anymore. They were swollen. I knew I wasn't blind, but if I opened my eyes toward any amount of light there was intense, intense pain. I didn't feel this while I was running. It seemed to happen as soon as I was safe and the adrenaline came out of me.
At the NYU health center, the doctors said, "Yeah, your eyes are scratched to shit." They put drops in them, but they needed more sophisticated equipment to see what was going on. I wound up having 147 fiberglass splinters taken out of my eyes.
Chris came back from Brooklyn to pick me up, and I held on to him and hugged him. Later, he said, "You know, Michael, this is why I stuffed you in sleeping bags and beat on you all those years as a kid. Just to toughen you up for something like this."
When we got back to my place, I collapsed and it all hit me. I cried like I've never cried in my life. I finally let loose, and it felt better. My brother helped me pack, and we got to Westchester, where my wife and family had gone. Jenny came running to the door. I can remember hearing the dum, dum, dum, dum, dum of her footsteps.
My mother was there. My dad. My father-in-law. They all hugged me. Then they gave me my son. I could tell by the noises he was making that he was happy. I hugged him and sort of started the healing process there.
Later, I went to Maine to sit by the ocean for a few days and get my head together. I saw all of my old friends. It was amazing. Everyone I know in my life has called me to tell me they love me. It's like having your funeral without having to die.
For a while right after, I wondered,
How the hell am I going to work again? How am I going to give a damn about selling someone a T-1 line? I had a list of people who were going to be my business for the next year, hundreds of people, all on my desk -- blown up. For the life of me, I can't dredge up those names. That will cost me a quarter of my income, maybe more. You know what? Who cares? I'm alive and I'm here. A big deal has gone to big deal.
I lost a friend in 2 World Trade Center. He was one of those guys you liked as soon as you met him. Howard Boulton. Beautiful person. His baby was born three months ahead of mine. He was on the eighty-fourth floor and I was on the eighty-first. The last conversation he had with his wife was by telephone. He told her, "Something happened to 1 World Trade Center. It's very bad. I don't think Michael Wright is okay. I'm coming home." I like to think Howard wasn't scared like I wasn't scared in the stairwell. I like to think that he heard a rumble like I heard a rumble and then he was gone.
I went to his funeral. To see his wife and his baby -- it would have made you sad even if you didn't know him. But it was much more loaded for me. Here was a perfect reflection of what could've been.
One of the hardest things I had to deal with up to this point -- and still do -- is that my brother Brian, who's one year older than me, has cancer. He and I are practically twins. He has germ-cell cancer in his chest. He recently told me that the good news is they can go in and get it. But the bad news is they might have to take a lung with it. Before September 11, maybe the fact that he was going to lose a lung might have thrown me for a loop. But I found out I love my brother for my brother. I don't love him to run up mountains at a brisk pace with me. My reaction was: Thank God they can get it.
Luckily, I've been well equipped to deal with this. I have a family that's unbelievably close and supportive and a lot of friends. I've been to therapy, and I can do the whole checklist: Do you have a sense of fear and not know where it's coming from? Yup. Can you no longer take pleasure in things you once took pleasure in? Yup. Claustrophobic? Yup. I have nightmares. I jump when I hear a siren. But it's the smell that haunts me. Talk to anyone who was within ten blocks of it and they'll tell you that. I had vaporized people packed up my nose, in my mouth and ears. For weeks, I was picking stuff out of my ears.
I've been giving myself the space to be a little freaky for a while. I don't think this is going to turn me into Rambo or motivate me to go out and sleep with nineteen-year-old girls. Yeah, it's gonna bug me for a while. I'm gonna have some scars on my brain. But I don't think it's going to affect me long term.
I don't wonder, Why me? Some people say, "You made it out; you're destined for great things." Great, I tell them. I made it out, now why not put a little pressure on me while you're at it.
In the reflection of the hotel windows across the street, I saw Tower Two coming down. I dove to the ground and started crying. The explosion was extreme, the noise impossible to describe. That noise is a noise thousands of people heard when they died.
|Sujo John's Testimony - Out of the Ashes, 41:22 minutes,|
Uploaded by yourlivingmanna on Jan 12, 2012
3:19 I thought my calling was in business, I got degrees in business. In January of 2000, I would meet a young girl who was born in India, but she had moved with her family when she was really young to America. We meet, get married, and in February of 2001, we get ready to move to America. February was an interesting season of my life now, getting ready to move to a country where I had never been. I had heard a lot about America, watched a lot of popular American stuff on television, and, and tried to glean some of what America was all about through the lenses of movies and literature, but moving to this country would be such a different experience. As I get ready to leave Calcutta, India, a challenge I had to deal with was, I had just got married, spent all my savings on a wedding and a honeymoon, had enough money now to be buying two air tickets, and so when I said goodbye to my family in Calcutta, I just had $50 in my wallet. So I left Calcutta, India with $50, two bags, land up in New York City. A cold day in New York City. God had an interesting experience for me that day, because growing up in India, all my dreams was always to see snow, and I land up in New York City right in the middle of a blizzard.
4:35 I quickly realized that everything would be very different in this country. I was raised in a different way, used to a different culture, and so it was kind of fascinating my first few days, weeks getting adjusted to the life in America. But the biggest challenge that I would deal with was, hey, I'm married, I have a wife, God, I need a job. I need some money to get going in this nation. So here begins my quest for a job, my search for a job,. Two weeks and nobody wants to talk to me. Often the response to me is, hey, you're new in this country, get used to life in America, then come try us, maybe we'll give you a job. But God had something so amazing in store for us. Two weeks roll by, third week starts, and there is a job fair at the World Trade Center. So I show up at that job fair, and by then my wife had just found work at the World Trade Center, she had started working on the 71st floor of the South Tower. So, I'm now engaging with this young recruiter at this job fair, and she begins to tell me how her company, they office out of the World Trade Center, on the 81st floor of the North Tower. When I heard those words I just felt, really, you know, really blessed, I said, wow God, if you can make this happen, it would be so cool to go to work with my wife every day in the morning at the World Trade Center. This place where the world comes to do business. The interviews went well, and, and, and a week following all those interviews, I get a call saying hey, you've landed the job. Here I am, on this American dream, chasing stuff, and for sure, on my first few paychecks, I take in, I found myself now slowly being resigned to chasing the stuff that America has to offer. Time goes by really quickly and a few months roll by, and something really exciting happens in our family, and my wife is now pregnant. She's, she's pregnant, and we're so excited planning and dreaming about this child that's going to come into our life.
6:36 t's September, 2001, everything going so well at work, and in fact, I'm making great money, my wife is great...making great money, we're buying stuff around us, preparing our home for this baby that's going to come, but right in the middle of all that, I would often feel a gentle voice speaking to me: what are you doing with your life in America. And my response to that gentle voice would be, God, I find myself just chasing things, instead of chasing the things that are on your heart. I happen to pick up this book, called The Prayer of Jabbez, and I said, God, it would be really cool if you could do something with my life. I'm tired of chasing stuff. If you could turn Jabbez's life around, could you do that with me.
7:22 September 11th, 2001, a beautiful, clear day on the East Coast, and I remember leaving home in Northern New Jersey and getting into New York City, for what I thought would be just another day. I get to work, I get to the 81st floor of the North Tower. I make my way to my cube, and now I'm looking out the windows of these towers, and I get to see this glorious view of the Lady with her Torch, and I'm saying, God, wow, my life has taken such an incredible turn. You've blessed us both with great jobs, a child on the way. But God, this morning, my heart cries, would you do something with my life, I know there is a call of God upon my life. I really want you to use me. So now I'm on my computer, I decided to write an email, and again, this stuff is heavy upon my heart, so maybe I should share this, this feeling that I'm feeling right now with a friend of mine, a prayer partner in my home church. And I decided to write an email to my friend in my church in New Jersey with these words: "Hey Tom, something is happening to me this morning. There is a call of God upon my life. I want God to use me. Would you pray for me? Let go of that email at 8:05, the morning of September 11th, 2001, from my office.
8:35 Little did I know then, the next 40 minutes or so, this great tragedy would happen. God would spare our lives, and hear I am, sharing with you a story of God's protection and providence. It's now 8:48 in the morning. I'm standing by this, by this fax machine, and I'm trying to get some documents out to our office in Philadelphia, when everything suddenly changes. I hear this incredible roar, and for a moment I thought my eardrums would burst. You probably were tuned into your radio then, or you probably saw this happen on your television set that morning. This was American Flight 11, flying coast to coast, from Boston to L.A., this huge jet, had come crashing into our tower. The plane struck a few floors above us, but part of the debris of the plane tears in through our floor. Fire breaks out on our floor, walls around us caving down. As I look up I can see a huge crater, I can actually see ten floors directly above us.
9:36 There were about 28 of us in that office and all we could do was, we hit the ground, with our faces flat on that carpet, and as I am lying there, I'm saying, God, if this building is going to go down with me, am I never going to see my wife again, am I'm never going to see the child she's carrying. Oh God, I may never see my parents that live in Calcutta, India. These thoughts just racing through my mind. Jet fuel, smoke, spreading all around us. And now I hear someone from our floor get up, and his cry is, "hey gang, let's get out of this place, let's fight our way through this fire, let's make our way toward the stairwell." So we start fighting our way through the fire. We make our way toward the stairwell, but before we could get to that stairwell, we would have to cross this place where the elevators were. Now the elevators were right in the middle of these towers, the jet fuel had come down the elevator shafts, and balls of fire now shooting out that place. So we kind of had to scrap our backs against the walls that were right behind us, so that we could avoid this fire. We now make our way onto that stairwell. Thousands of people now on that stairwell. The stairwell is not too broad, it's good enough for us to be running down in two files. One thing in common for all those people who were coming down with me--the fear of death written so clearly on everyone's face. I looked at my watch and realized that it's past 8:45 in the morning, and that now reminds me that my pregnant wife is always at work by 8:40 on the 71st floor of the South Tower. And I'm saying, God, if my wife has made it all the way to her building, then there is no way she is going to come down all those flights.
11:24 I'm trying to reach her through my cell phone; I borrowed the phones of other people that were running down those flights with me, but now the cell phones wouldn't work, because the networks were completely jammed. We now hear the explosion. Now you saw that on your television sets too. This is the second plane now crashing into the second tower. We started running down that stairwell. As we continued our descent down, our hearts were very heavy when we, on the 43rd floor and the 44th floor, when we began to see these brave firemen and policemen, one by one, these men, trying to make their way up. And we would ask ourselves, why are they going up? We had seen fire on almost every floor. We had no idea then, that these brave men were literally walking up to their death.
12:12 Now friend, the story of September 11th, 2001, in a lot of ways, is about 19 hijackers full of hatred, that came and captured four commercial airlines, crashed two of them into the World Trade Center, one into the Pentagon, one crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. And the world may look at world...at the tragedy, and the focus might be on Al Qaeda, but let me tell you, when that tragedy happened, there were brave men that faced the worst form of evil you can imagine. And they face it now with hatred, they faced it with unconditional love for humanity. These men, laying down their lives, wanting to make sure that people like us are still around to be sharing our story. So if you have firefighter or policemen watching this, God bless you, and thank you for being a hero in your community.
13:03 We passed all those men. It took me more than an hour to come down all those flights. I get to this level which is called the plaza. Now if you've been to the World Trade Center before the tragedy happened, you would know that the plaza was an open space right in between these towers, surrounded by the World Trade Center. [EDIT] It's a place where people who work in the building hang out at lunch and after work. It's a place of life, a place of exuberance, but now this place of life had been quickly turned into this place of death. Hundreds of bodies of people that had jumped out of the building, all around us. The engine of American Flight 11 lying right in the middle of that plaza. And you can only imagine the pain and the horror that ran through our minds as we watched this scene all around us. A fireman comes running to us with these words: "Please avoid this horrible scene on your left; turn on your right, and go down a few more flights, this will take you to the lowest level of the World Trade Center, and once you get there, find your way out of this burning building. So I make my way down those few flights, which gets me to the lowest level of the World Trade Center. It's the Concourse level, where you can have an...through it you can have easy access under the street level. I find all these people being let out of all these exits, but I thought of walking towards the South Tower, thinking, if my wife has not made her way up into her building, then she could be standing somewhere near that building looking for me. And in a way, friend, that's when my story really begins. 14:37 I get close to the South Tower, and suddenly I realize that the ground around me is shaking. It felt like an earthquake, I felt like I was being sucked into some kind of vacuum, there was this incredible roar. For a moment I thought it was a bomb that had imploded in front of us, but I soon realized that this was not a bomb. The very building I'd approached, the South Tower, was finally imploding and going down. And now I come to terms with my mortality. And now there is a cry from deep within my soul, God, if I am going to die here, where am I going? Have I lived a life that's pleasing in your sight? Or have I tried to live my life my way? It was a moment of fear, desperation. When that moment of fear and hopelessness, I felt the Lord speak His peace over me. And I felt the Lord remind me of that event that happened in my life, age 15, responding to a message of an American missionary in Calcutta, India. And I felt the Lord saying, Sujo, because of your walk with me, if you die here, you're going to make it to this place called heaven. That is the greatest experience I've ever had in my life. The greatest peace and the greatest joy that I could ever have in my life was in that moment of turbulence, confusion, and pain, and loneliness, when God gives me this glorious peace, of this place called heaven. And I love talking about heaven, because, folks, that's the hope of this whole message that we are all about. Heaven, this glorious place, that He's preparing for those that have turned to a relationship with Him.
16:10 In fact, Jesus talked a lot about heaven. In John 40, he shares that with his disciples. He was trying to prepare them for the fact that soon He would leave this earth, but there would be hope for them after he would be gone. [John 14:1-6] So He says, "do not be troubled. Trust in God and trust also in me, and my father's house, there are many rooms, and if were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, then words of Jesus, not the words of the Southern Baptist Convention, or a Methodist church, or a charismatic church, or whatever affiliation you're from, the words of Jesus read in some Bibles, read in my ancient Bible, He says, I will come back and take you to be with me so that also may be where I am going. So, this piece of heaven that just owns me, and now there are other words of the Bible that speaks to my heart, Romans 10:13, whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord, shall be saved.
17:07 Now folks, growing up in India, I was always a kind of closet Christian. If you'd ask me about what I believe in, or why I do some things, or why I avoid some things, then maybe I will engage with you in a spiritual conversation, otherwise, I'm not one of those guys to talk about Jesus all the time.
17:24 And now these words are playing on my mind. And as the Lord speaks His words upon my heart, I realize that there were a group of 15 or 20 people that were quickly gathering around me. In fact, we huddled together, I'm on top of men and women, there were men and women on top of me, and I felt the Lord saying, these people that are with you, where are they going without Jesus, and at that moment, I begin, I realized, that this is my time to speak up for Jesus. These people that are with me, and me, we are facing death, but if they don't know Jesus, where are they going to go and spend eternity? So I started crying out, Jesus, and I asked those 15 or 20 people that are with me to call upon the name of the Lord. And I want you to know that something amazing happened. Not one tried to call upon any other God, or tried any other form of religion or faith, how could they? Because there is only one name under all of heaven and earth, by which we can be saved, and that's the sweet, matchless name of Jesus.
18:23 The last few minutes I have been sharing with you my story about how I faced death, of how a building was collapsing around me, and I want to pause here for just a moment because I realize that some of you, as you watch this story, you're walking through some real stories in your life. And friend, I don't know your story. It could be a marriage situation, it could be something with your finances, something in your relationship with your spouse, boyfriend---here's an encouragement for you as you watch this: God's aware of your story. In your storm, in that trial, if you will call upon His name, that's how a piece of God can flood your soul. A piece of God just hit me so hard. And then it didn't matter whether I was going to live or whether die. We prayed for a few minutes. Here's a deafening noise as this building going down. We all started moving from that huddle. I'm about 15 or 20 feet from that huddle, my face flat on the ground, lying there. And I realize I'm being buried in debris, in debris, soot, glass, all kind of stuff fall on me, and I'm thinking: great God, I'm going to die here, but I really hope that my death can be less painful; I hope something soft hits me. I'm buried with all this stuff, I thought I was going to die because I could not breathe, I was choking on the soot and the smoke that was all around me. After what, 15 or 20 minutes, I'm kind of surprised that I'm still alive, tried to get up, I'm plastered with soot and ash, glass, all around me, could not breathe. I decided to feel my way back to that place where I prayed with those people, don't they realize that those 15 or 20 people that I prayed with, they did not make it out alive,. Their bodies were smashed and crushed. I said, God, they just called upon your name and how come they not make it? And I felt the Lord saying, Sujo, they made their peace with me in their dying moments, and they're resting with me in my presence.
20:15 My Bible says, what shall profit a man [Mathew 16:26] if he gains the whole world, and loses his soul. If I could paraphrase that for you: you chase success, and success shows up at your doorstep. You chase fame, popularity, wealth, and it's arrived for you. You gain it all--lose your soul. Man, what would be your profit?
20:39 I looked around, one man alive, this is an F.B.I. agent. I reached my hand out to him, and he reached out his hand to mine. We locked our hands together and I asked him this question: are you a Christian? He said he was. And we started praying, saying, God, if it is your will, show us a way out of this place. We both knew time was short, we were both struggling to breathe. As we continued praying something miraculous happened. A red light, now flashing through all that smoke and soot that was all around us. And I turned to this man and I say, I see a flashing light, which means that's the street level. We have to somehow make our way towards that light. We started walking towards that light, feeling our way through that, all that debris that was around us. We get to this place, where we, where the light becomes really clear. It's a flashing light that's coming out of an ambulance. But that ambulance is now crushed. But the front body of that ambulance is still standing, and that light is still flashing.
21:36 Friend, there is an encouragement that God has for you from this part of my story. As you watch this, you're looking at your life and saying, "I put my trust in people and they've slipped away. I thought my life would end up a certain way. I thought my marriage would work out in a different way for the better, but things are going in a different direction. I have news for you: there is a light watching out for you. In the darkest experience in your life, in the darkest moment in your life, if you will allow that light to shine on you, watch how that light will take you from that place of hopelessness. Your bitter, your lonely, you can't find a reason to be waking up the next morning, yes, God can pick you up from that place of just brokenness and despair, and He can lift you up and take you to this place of comfort and hope. He will take you to this place where you can begin to dream again, where you'll begin to hope again. And that's what the name of Jesus can do for you.
22:41 This man and I we decided, our best bet would be getting close to one of those streets, so we're making our way towards there, when suddenly, this F.B.I. agent, he let go of my hand with these words: "you go on ahead, I got to go back and get more people." That was my last exchange of words with this man. I start running ahead, this man decides to turn back, and start, and starts running, starts running into the North Tower. The North Tower, although it was the first building to get hit, it was still standing.
23:13 A couple of minutes passed by. The ground is shaking again, an incredible roar, turn back to realize the North Tower is now collapsing. I said, God, I hope this brave man, he makes it out alive. This is a story of an incredible American hero, who runs back to be looking for more people. He died that day. He's left behind four young children, and a grieving wife from New Jersey.
23:44 I'm out of the debris. I'm sitting right in the middle of one of the streets of New York City, saying, God, why did you spare my life. The towers don't exist anymore, just smoke, dust, ash, rising out of Ground Zero. I'm saying, God, why did you spare me, for sure my wife is dead. For sure the child she is carrying is gone. I find myself all alone, sitting in one of the corners of, in one of the streets of New York City. And I felt very impressed now to walk into one of the stores that's right across from me. As I walked into the store, a young girl from the store, she comes up, she pulls me into the store, starts removing glass from my hair, and she says, let me call your family for you, and I said, what family? I think my wife is dead. She picks up my phone, starts going through my numbers, the numbers stored in my cell phone, my cell phone rings for the very first time that day in this girl's hand. She hands me back the phone. I flip my phone and I see my wife's caller ID, and I cannot believe it. And I'm saying, God, this can't be her. It's someone else calling me with the news that, hey, your wife is dead. I picked up that call thinking that that would be the worst news of my life, but when I said hello, it's my wife on the other side. Her life was spared.
25:02 We meet each other late that day. It was an amazing moment, one moment of truth when we truly now believe that each of our lives were spared, it was almost magical, but we knew that it was a great plan of God. As we hugged and cried with each other she shares with me her story, she wanted to go to work early that day, but that morning she gets delayed by a couple of minutes. She comes into the World Trade Center by the last train that would make its way that morning into the building. By then the North Tower is hit, so she is pushed out of the building, she gets out, hundreds of men and women, joining hands, jumping out of the building, many bodies landing close to where she is. But God had a plan for her. A young girl comes up out of nowhere, grabs her arm, and says, I gotta take you to a place of safety. Takes her to an apartment in Manhattan, and the really amazing part was, this turned out to be a follower of Jesus. This young girl picks up a Bible and starts reading scripture encouraging her. God has sent an angel to my wife when she needed encouragement the most.
26:05 They took me and my wife to a place to decontaminate us. They let us go past midnight. When I got home the first thing I did was calling my parents who lived in India. They had watched this whole thing on CNN, and they were mourning, thinking we were gone. A family of neighbors, a whole neighborhood had gathered home, and they were trying to comfort my family..parents, and now in the middle of all that we get to call them, and let them know that God has miraculously spared our lives.
26:31 Before that night before we tried to get any sleep. Me and my wife, we just knelt down, and fell down by our bed, and I said, God, this day has truly changed my life forever. This horrible day where so many died, where we came so close to facing death. This horrible day, you've used this day in my life to teach me some amazing truths. Most important thing that I've learned, God, is that you never know what a day could have in store for you, or for your family.
27:05 I was someone, I took time for granted, opportunities for granted, doing my own thing, chasing stuff. Trying to go up, the ladder in corporate America. And secondly, I said, God, this was done, in the name of a religion. 19 hijackers, they were willing to die and murder all these people for a cause that they believed in, and as a follower of Jesus Christ, I know where that cause has come from, The cause has come from the pits of hell, and it's to the pits of hell this cause will return.
Below, is a link to the Esquire article posted at Free Republic, where it was oddly titled, given two dates---just not the actual one in the online original, (or was this supplied privately two days in advance for digital vetting?) with both of the [sole]author's first and last names being MISSPELLED! [It was not "co-authored" on the Esquire website, as the ampersand here suggests.] Also, examine PackerBoy's use of obfuscating capitalization as he opens whatever transcription process. And why call it an interview? Other than the lead paragraph, it's a first-person dramatization. Free Republic's only contribution here, were thread comments alluding to this as being one of the first extended survivor's narratives to be published in the media.
Riveting WTC Survivor Story (My title)
Esquire Magazine | January 2002 | Michael Wright & Carl Nussman,
Posted on Sat Dec 29 2001 11:31:04 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time) PackerBoy
Esquire Magazine | January 2002 | Michael Wright & Carl Nussman,
Posted on Sat Dec 29 2001 11:31:04 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time) PackerBoy
At 8:48 on the morning of September 11, MICHAEL WRIGHT was a thirty-year-old account executive working on the eighty-first floor of the World Trade Center. Two hours later; he was something else. The story of his escape is the fastest 3,863 words you will ever read.
WHAT I'VE LEARNED- JANUARY 2002 - ESQUIRE MAGAZINE - INTERVIEWED BY CARL NUSSMAN
UP TO THAT DAY, I’d had a Brady Bunch, cookie-cutter, beautiful life. I now know what it’s like to have a 110-story building that’s been hit by a 767 come down on my head. For better or for worse, it’s part of my life. There are things I never thought I’d know that I now know
December 4, 2000, 12:00 PM, ConnectedPlanet.com, Hale of a company, by Susan Biagi,
The sales force is key to that effort. Of its 900 employees, Network Plus has 375 sales people split among 14 offices. The sales organization is highly regimented, Crowley says. All reps go through a three-month training period and learn to sell the same way. They also follow the same schedule: Monday and Thursday they stay in the office to set up appointments for the week. The other three days they don a suit and tie and call on their customers.
[James Crowley, the company's executive vice president and chief operating officer.]Crowley characterizes the sales approach as "kill and care." Reps balance caring for their existing customers with generating new business. Pay is earned on a residual basis, making it hard for people to leave.
"Those who stick it out for more than six or seven months tend to stay for the long haul," Crowley says. "The esprit de corps in the office is reminiscent of an athletic team. We play this game to win it, and there is a lot of healthy competition among the account teams for who gets to have bragging rights in the organization."
February 6, 2002, AP Online, Network Plus Files Chapter 11,
At the start of a six-minute CBN appearance on The 700 Club, Sujo John a 911 Survivor's Story, uploaded May 7, 2010, the video opens with a type of chareet, or graphic appearing, in which can be made out
One World Trade Center,
All of the World Trade Center tenant's lists published in the aftermath of 9/11 were sourced to the co-Star Group, an independent real-estate data company, with the Associated Press recorded as having posted the information as early as 9:34 p.m. EDT, that same day. As presented across the outlets an identical typo is apparent, in not having properly spaced floor "81" from floors "9-11,"
Bank of America Banks/Financial 9-11,81CNN was the only source to publish a square footage allotment for different companies:
Network Plus Telecommunication 81
New Continental Enterprises NA 81
Bank of America 132,586 s.f.but since CNN also published Bank of America's floors as "9-11,81" this would indicate the extra information was provided by co-Star, but for some reason, no other news vendor saw fit to publish it.
New Continental Enterprises 2,055 s.f.
Network Plus 8,500 s.f.
The only original reporting that didn't rely on the list supplied by co-Star, was published in the Wall Street Journal's "A Look at Former World Trade Center Tenants," which placed only two tenants on the 81st floor: Network Plus, with 51 employees, out of a world-wide total of 1,100; and the Bank of America, with 400 employees, out of 144,000 worldwide, on floors 9, 11 & 81, but erroneously placing those offices in the South Tower; and stating, "Two employees are confirmed dead."
Crain’s list, [first crawled on Oct.14, 2001] lists only 200 employees in the trade towers for the Bank of America.
In the Esquire article, Michael Wright mentions that on 9/11, "We'd just started sharing the eighty-first floor of 1 World Trade Center with Bank of America."
At the first-year anniversary mark, Scripps [ABC News / KERO23] North Tower list, has the Bank of America on floors 9, 10 &11, but not on floor 81.
According to leasing data released by the Port Authority in response to a F.O.I.L. request from a member of the Let's Roll forum, the consecutive lease start dates for the Bank of America floors were as follows:
Floor 12 Suite 1201 09/13/1993--6/30/2010On a previous blog, North Tower Tenants List, I attempted to assemble tenant information from all the available lists. But given the apparently limited number of Bank of America employees in the towers, and a lack of awareness in the business community that the firm held twice the number of full-floor footprints as co-Star reported, would lead to the conclusion that floors 13, 14 and 18 represent shadow occupancies. And only one justification comes to mind for the Bank to have taken on still further space on the 81st floor six years later---as evidenced by the Wall Street Journal's reporting two bank employees were confirmed dead.
Floor 9 Suite 901 10/8/1993- -6/30/2010
Floor 11 Suite 1115 11/19/1993-6/30/2010 [a shared floor]
Floor 10 Suite 1001 12/5/1993--6/30/2010
Floor 18 Suite 1801 03/11/1994--6/30/2010
Floor 13 Suite 1301 04/8/1994---6/30/2010
Floor 14 Suite 1401 10/7/1994--6/30/2010
Floor 81 Suite 8101 08/1/2000-- 6/30/2010
The Dun & Bradstreet World Trade Center Business Listing as of 9/11/01, lists Network Plus Corp. under D.&B.# 050014393, however there is no such listing for a New Continental Enterprises in the trade center, so I include it in my blog role: 79 Firms Said To Be Operating in the North Tower of the World Trade Center Were Unknown to Dun & Bradstreet
Ebcu.com, lists a New Continental Enterprises Ltd., located in Shanghai, operated by Mr. Eric Gao, who deals in garments & accessories.
The Port Authority FOIL tenant's list for the North Tower, gives the lease for suite 8129 to New Continental Enterprises, and running from July 1, 1997 to June 30, 2002.
A single refererence at bizcompare.com establishes John S. Dubel, as Chief Executive Officer of New Continental Enterprises USA Inc., with phone number (212) 524-0042, and annual business sales of "More than $1B."
A Google search for "New Continental Enterprises USA Inc" returns about 4,060 results, but not a single reference includes an address, although all do include the phone number (212) 524-0042
A list of nearly 300 Exporters Businesses in New York, NY, found at blogthishere.com, list only a single business by phone number only, without also an address. That phone number is (212) 524-0042.
A reverse phone number look-up for (212) 524-0042, returns a Cortera Company Profile For:
CONTINENTAL AIRLINES INC
1 WORLD TRADE CENTER
NEW YORK, NY 10048
view map(212) 524-0042
John S Dubel was also the chief financial officer of WorldCom [November 11, 2002, New York Times, WorldCom Intends to Move On, Maybe With a New Owner,] as the company attempted to come out of bankruptcty following the largest accounting fraud in American history. WorldCom’s financial records, stored on the 83rd floor of the North Tower, were destroyed in the September 11th attacks.