I found it hard to be motivated and boredom had set in very quickly. I didn’t feel like trying to talk people into signing up for credit cards at 9:00 AM, which was an ungodly hour for me, a junior in college. I also wasn’t in the mood to hear five hours worth of rejection. I could handle people telling me “No” but when they got rude or called me names I just wanted them to realize I was just another human being trying to earn a living and get by. I didn’t pick your name out of the phone book to harass you today, the system dialer connected me to you because I was the next available sales rep and your number was next on the list the bank provided. Being a telemarketer is hard work.
We always started our calling in the morning on the East coast, because we don’t want to tick people off any more than we have to. Nine is the earliest we can call any timezone. But what started as a normal day didn’t seem normal based on the responses we were getting. Instead of a hundred people telling me no, we were getting busy signal after busy signal. Some lines were nothing but static. I was kind of thankful that I didn’t have to push this card on anyone, so I just kept at it. But I couldn’t help thinking about how odd the string of busy signals was. Then out of nowhere people were irate. Not the normal, “Hey, I just woke up. Don’t call me anymore” irate. I’m talking about screaming and cursing at me irate. “Why are you @$!% calling me?” Slam! “Don’t you know what’s going on?!” Slam! I looked at the woman next to me and could tell by her face she was getting much of the same responses, too. People sounded panicked. I couldn’t understand it. Then it all made perfect sense in one startling and shocking moment. Three seats down from me a woman stood up, took off her headset and said, “The World Trade Centers have just been bombed!?”
What followed was a mix of confusion and panic. Our dialer kept the calls coming in while management tried to contact the bank representatives to get permission to cancel calling for the day. As soon as they closed work, I headed back to my college campus and pulled up to where all of the student body was assembled for our daily chapel service. I walked down the hall, just me, everyone else was still inside, and came to a stop at the cafe’ where I finally saw with my eyes what I had heard on the radio had been happening. I just stood there. Dazed. I realized that everyone inside had no idea what just took place. It must have been twenty minutes that I was glued to the T.V. just floored.
Someone made an announcement before dismissing them. When Chapel let out, and one by one students walked out of the auditorium and their eyes caught sight of the screens. One by one they froze in their tracks. Like me, they stood there, mouths open but nothing coming out. I don’t remember how long we all stood there together, but it was a horrific moment I will never forget.
Today we remember those innocent lives who died at the hands of terrorists.
We remember those brave heroes who ran in when others were trying to run out.
We remember the men and women who have since gone to bring to justice those who attacked us.
We remember. And we will never forget.