Posted: June 22nd, 2021
The Power of Words September 15th, 2001. “That moment was when I learned the importance of words. Whether you may be angry, sad, or happy, you must use your words wisely. Love everyone, and tell them so every day”(George Phoenix. ) ______________________________________________________________________________ Morning of September 11th, 2001. Phoenix went to the cafeteria to get his usual coffee, milk and Danish. Returning from the cafe with his food, he entered into an elevator heading to his office on the 67th floor. The tight space was uncomfortably cold and silent, with extremely strange yet catchy elevator music playing.
Prior to work he had gotten into an argument with his wife and as he slowly sipped his coffee savoring every ounce of it, he was contemplating the words he would say to her when he returned home. Five other men crowded into the elevator: Four were everyday workers in the twin towers, and the other was the monthly window washer. The smell of cleaning products and expensive cologne began to take over the air. You could see it on every face waiting for their stop that it was about to be a long day. The drawn out elevator ride was almost over. Only eighteen more floors to go and it would be time for him to sit down and rest his body.
Suddenly, as the elevator hit the 50th floor, there was a large “boom” and the elevator began to bang violently from side to side. One of the men reached over and pressed the emergency button. As they all sat frustrated and worried waiting for a response, they became incredibly antsy. After what seemed like an agonizing amount of time, the operator informed them frantically that the building was under attack, and the loud “boom” they heard was a plane crashing into the building. The mood of the elevator drastically transformed from frustration to pure fear.
As the smoke quickly became overwhelming, George instinctively grabbed his hanker chief and dipped it into his milk. He recalled once being instructed that a wet cloth covering the face will help a person breathe during a fire emergency. Never having thought he would actually be in a situation that would put such a trick to use, he found the situation unfathomable. Wisely, they decided to keep calm and think of a way out. The window washer grabbed his squeegee and used all his might in an attempt to pry the doors open, asking with strained breathes for the others to join in and help.
As a result, they finally got the doors open. George felt a sense of relief, as they were sliding the door open, but was hit by reality when he was met with two giant, painted letters – 50. Right in front of the doors; in front of his escape to enjoy the rest of his life with his beautiful wife, was a wall offering no escape. Then and there he pulled out his phone and dialed his wife, only to discover that there was no signal. The frustration he had towards himself was overflowing. All he could think about was how meaningless were. The frustration then gave him a kick to push on.
He began to pierce through the wall with the metal end of the squeegee. After piercing a small hole the men all crowded around it trying to breathe in every bit of fresh oxygen they could. As a group, they worked towards kicking at the wall. Eventually they were able to create a hole big enough to crawl through. Before long George and the other men were discovered by a firefighter and led down the stairs. Every step he took he thought about hurrying home to his wife and saying the things he should’ve said before he left. Phoenix is a hero. His focus and ability to stay calm under pressure was phenomenal.
There are many lessons a person could get out of this incredible story. But I think there was one extremely important lesson Mr. Phoenix wanted people to learn out of his story. That 43 minutes of his life taught George the importance of words, and that no matter what your emotion may be, you must use your words wisely. The day a person’s life is taken away remains unknown. Each life and therefore each day in a life is precious and should be valued. No matter what may be going on in life, keep your head held high and tell everyone that you love how much they mean to you. You never know when or what your last words may be to someone.
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