Sometimes John Cashin worked late. He did Sept. 10.
Sometimes he slept in the following morning. He did Sept. 11.
When his brother called to see if he was safe that Tuesday morning 10 years ago, Cashin was still asleep.
“I thought I better call and see when I need to come in. I figured we would definitely be working that day. It didn’t look that bad from far away,” Cashin said of the view of the “accidental” crash into the North Tower on his television.
He was then employed as an associate product manager at the NY Institute of Finance, a Pearson company located on the 17th floor of 2 World Trade Center, or the south tower.
When the television zoomed in on the damage, he realized that the problem was much more serious than he originally imagined. Minutes later, at 9:03 a.m., he watched the second plane crash into the 78th through 84th floors of his building.
Then, he really started to get nervous.
It wasn’t until after the building’s collapse, when a friend called him from a pay phone, that he was reassured everyone he worked with had made it out OK.
The CEO of Pearson, a British company, ordered everyone from the office as soon as the attacks began.
“Everybody that I worked with and everybody that I know escaped fine,” Cashin said. “We were pretty fortunate.”
Cashin spent the majority of the rest of the day on the phone reassuring others that he was OK.
“I spoke with my mom and dad and they were very eager for me to get home (to Augusta) and be with them,” he said.
For a week Cashin stayed in Augusta in limbo, wondering if he still had a job or if he should just return to get his things. Finally word came that work would resume in a renovated office space.
“I don’t remember anyone trying to talk me out of (going back to New York). It was never a question,” Cashin said.
The company had to start from scratch after losing its backup files in the collapse. Overall, the company’s transition back to normalcy, Cashin said, was much smoother than others.
A Cantor Fitzgerald employee who worked about 100 floors up in the opposite tower told Cashin that more than anything he wanted to get back to work. At the time, the employee had been to nearly 20 funerals, with at least another 10 still to go.
“I still kind of wish they had rebuilt the buildings the way they were and let people go back to work there,” Cashin said. “I think that would have been the best memorial they could have had, but I definitely understand the one they’ve got.”
Cashin stayed in New York until February of the following year before packing up and heading back to Georgia. The decision had nothing to do with Sept. 11.
“I never intended to stay there,” he said.