Working with Dad and Experiencing a Collective Tragedy
Updated: Aug 30, 2019
After becoming the sole owner of the business, the task at hand was to continue growing the business and overcome any loss that would occur, as a result of not having Jan with her energy and vibrant personality in the business. The challenge for me, as it is for any hands on owner, was to learn how to delegate and organize my staff which was and has continued to be an excellent mix of outstanding individuals from different backgrounds that each had a common interest and passion in jewelry and people. No business owner can succeed without having great employee partners who believe in the mission of the company.
During this era of the spiral stair case that connected the lower and upper unit, I had the good fortune to hire my Dad as my book keeper. He had taken an early retirement package from Public Service Natural Gas Company and was available to fill the need that I had. I asked Dad if he was interested in the position. He said he was but he was concerned that because he was not yet 65 that he needed to be careful not make too much money, so he would not be penalized on his taxes. I said, “ You’re hired!”
It was a true blessing to work with Dad, who has grown to be a friend and confidant over the years. One experience and challenge that we had together, along with the rest of my staff, was on September 11, 2001. We were just coming out of a downturn in the economy and were looking forward to a better 2001 Christmas season. A little after 9:00 that morning, I saw Dad pull up to the back door in his little blue truck and went to open the back door for him. As he came in he said that he had heard that a plane had crashed into one of the World Trade Center buildings in New York.
My first thought was that some disturbed person had ended their life by crashing a small plane into one of the buildings. We climbed the spiral staircase to the showroom where we had a small TV in our consultation room. After tuning into the news, we watched the coverage that showed one of the buildings on fire and the newscasters trying to figure out what was going on. Suddenly as the camera was concentrating on the buildings, a second plane hit. At that point, you could feel a chill go through your body as you realized we were witnessing a terrorist attack on our country.
We all stayed glued to the TV watching the coverage as the Pentagon was hit, and there was talk of fighter jets being scrambled to take down any other passenger jets that were compromised. Around that time, we heard of the plane crashing in Pennsylvania. The shock turned to utter sadness when we all watched the two huge buildings come down and realizing that we had just witnessed the deaths of thousands of human beings.
I think we had a couple customers come in during the morning and by the afternoon, the streets were eerily deserted. I think everyone in town had found a television to watch and were glued to it, either at work or at home. It was hard to think of such a joyful thing as jewelry in the weeks after that infamous day. September 11, 2001 was one of the saddest days of my life and collectively for our country.
This past February I was able to visit the 9/11 memorial while in New York for a jewelry trade show, about 35 years after I had seen the huge towers up close during a college trip. It is a very powerful and somber exhibit and experience. I recommend that you put it on your bucket list.