Almost 20 years ago, I lost my beautiful wife of 21 years, Laurie, to cancer. The following day (9/11/01), as I was getting dressed to go to the funeral parlor, I watched on TV as those planes crashed into the World Trade Center towers.
Devastated was an understatement on how I felt at that very moment, especially being from NY. (I lost a few Citi business associates, some high school classmates, plus several firefighter friends, that day.
Pls follow along.
A few weeks before, around mid-late August, I get a call from Mike McCartney, a great friend of mine at the Citibanking Service Center here in San Antonio.
(Note: For the last year of Laurie’s life, I was given permission to work from home so I could take care of her, a favor for which I am eternally grateful.)
Mike tells me about a young man, Victor Martinez, who previously worked for me in CitiPhone’s Sup Gate but recently moved from SA to NY. Problem was that he didn’t have a job waiting for him in NY so Mike wondered if I could be of any help to Victor.
“No problem, Mike…I’ll get right on it!”
I sent an e-mail to a dozen colleagues of mine back in NY who worked in different areas of the bank. I asked if they knew of any open positions or opportunities for this young man for whom I vouched on a professional & personal level. I didn’t expect, nor did I want, any “favors” whatsoever…I just wanted to see if there was a chance that they could use an excellent worker & if they were willing to either speak with him or point him in the right direction.
Within a few hours, I received 12 replies to my e-mail – – 10 offers to help out & 2 “out of office” auto-replies. Everyone got back to me so quickly! (Lemme tell ya, the people were the main reason that I LOVED working at Citi for all those years.)
I sent Mike back all the applicable information & told him to have Victor contact each one of them directly, mention the request I made & work out the appropriate arrangements.
I didn’t think much of it as it was something that I did pretty routinely, e.g., use my network of Citi friends/contacts to help out someone.
Mike calls me a few days after 9-11 to tell me something about Victor.
Apparently, Victor had spoken with Jeff Arestivo, an Area Director for several branches in the Financial District in Lower Manhattan. Jeff helped out & pointed Victor to his people at one of his Financial Centers.
The one at the World Trade Center (7 WTC).
Victor had an interview scheduled there.
For Tuesday, September 11th.
At 9:00 AM.
FYI, the planes hit the towers at 8:46 & a few minutes past 9:00.
My heart fell to the floor!
I’m waiting to take my wife & daughter back to NY for the wake, funeral & burial (Note: Because of the air travel ban after 9-11, we weren’t able to get up to NY until the following week!) and now, here I am, putting a person’s life in danger when all I was I trying to do was help him.
I felt like the lowest form of life on Earth.
Then Mike says, “But Victor overslept & missed his interview!”
God certainly works in strange ways.
The last I heard (and it was a couple of years ago), Victor got a job working for Citi at their flagship branch @ 399 Park Avenue (the former home of our corporate headquarters) as the Service Manager for the financial center.
Ya know, always be grateful for the life you have, the opportunities you’ve been given & the fact that you’re still here…alive & well!
Life’s a pretty fragile thing and along the way, you’ll experience some of the greatest highs & the deepest lows.
But just always do your best to be a good person…you never really know what He has in store for you.
Love you guys! Have a peaceful day. 💖
As always, thank you so very much for listening!
P.S. As per my buddy Steve Vlkovic (who was the Operations Manager @ 399 Park), Victor actually moved up the ranks & is now managing his own Citi branch in the NY metropolitan area!!!
You are such a good soul, Mike. Yes, God works in mysterious ways indeed.
Thank you! You do what you gotta do to help people…isn’t that why we’re here?
I still remember the day you told me this story!
Oh, the thoughts running through my head then…
Mike that took back to my ctitibank days in Client Relations and working Mike and Victor and you l over your mangement style and how you empowerd is to be better for our clients after they were the reason we were there.l so sorry to hear about your health situation but hope this gets you back in the game and gives some peace. Take care and God bless you and your family and look forward to reading more and hearing more.Wishing you all the best.
Thank you so much for the kind words, Lee!
I so loved my Citi family, most especially, those with whom I worked. And I will continue to do as long as I’m here!
Pls take care & God bless you!
Love you Mike.
As I do you!