Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Death of Design on 9/11

Photograph by Tom Spencer of Soul of the Garden

I had an eye-opening experience the other day. I was waiting for the bus to take me home. There was one other woman waiting there with me. I noticed that she was wearing a polo shirt with a business logo on the lapel. She had her arms full of watering cans and her nails were crusted with dirt. We exchanged a few grumbles about the bus always taking forever and then she broke open my heart a little bit.

We got to talking about work - maybe because it was mid-afternoon on a weekday, which is a time when most "normal" people were at work. I asked her about all the gardening gear and inquired if she was in the landscaping business.

She was. Well, she still is but ever since September 11th, 2001, things have drastically changed for my fellow commuter. She told me that she used to have a great job with a successful horticultural firm whose clients were mostly large companies. She enjoyed planning, planting, and caring for all the lobby arrangements. She found joy in her job and she got benefits.

And then there was 9/11.

She claimed that within a matter of days, nearly all of her employer's big accounts pulled out and wanted nothing more to do with indoor plants. I stared at her for a few seconds because I wasn't making the connection. She raised her eyebrows and asked, "What can you hide in a big planter...? A bomb."

Since 9/11, my bus buddy was laid off from her dream job. She tried, in vain, to get another job in a similar setting but it seemed that every company in her field was struggling. She's gotten by with part-time jobs (which she has now) but, in her opinion, her days of stable employment with good pay and benefits are behind her.

Her story simply sunk in. I didn't know anyone who died in the 2001 terrorist attacks. I don't even think I know anyone who knew anyone. When it first happened, I remember reading all the painful first accounts and about the subsequent memorial gatherings. The misery hit me hard then but at such a great distance.

But meeting an everyday woman at the bus stop, with her dirty hands full of what her life used to be...I don't know... it just hurt.


Anonymous said...

You don't have to know someone for it to hurt.

Nothing will ever be the same.

stuffed said...

Wow. Beautifully told. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I agree with anon. Nothing will ever be the same. Thank you for sharing your story. It was touching, and very much appropriate today.