I had just started my new job as a trainer for GC Services. We were an operator center for MCI.
It was the first time in a long time that I was working the "day" shift. It was early. I was groggy.
How I found out about the terrorist attacks on the towers is up for debate. Mr. Chep says he called me, I think I called him. Either way - we called one another.
The rest I DO remember.
I was walking through the breakroom where the TV was tuned to GMA. Everyone was stopped in their tracks. I glanced over at the television and saw smoke. I stopped for a closer inspection. Someone leaned over and said, "It's the Twin Towers. There are EMERGENCY signs all over on GEN"
I had just been promoted to a "Trainer" at the call center. It had been almost a year since I had taken an "operator" call (connecting callers for overseas calls, 1-800-Collect....that kind of thing) Suddenly I was thrust into the role of operator. The lines were flooded and they needed operators.
The first call I got was from a distressed caller trying to reach her family in NYC - she was calling from France. I attempted to break through the line - to no avail. We tried several times to get through - when we finally did, I connected it at no charge. It was the least I could do. She was one of the lucky ones.
So was I.
As a phone operator we had callers that were trying to make calls - connect to directory assistance, easy calls. It was the operators that worked in paging that had the heart-wrenching calls. A page from a husband to his wife telling her he loved her; and that he was not going to make it, calls from passengers on Flight 93, and calls that informed emergency crews where survivors were located.
Yes, those operators saved some lives. Others passed on messages to loved ones from burning buildings in NYC.
Iowans played a small part in connecting loved ones on those days - and the weeks to come. I am grateful for the few I was able to assist - and saddened by all those we lost 5 years ago today.