Mystery of “The Falling Man”

This haunting 9/11 photo, which came to be known as “The Falling Man” after an Esquire article by Tom Junod, is by photographer Richard Drew of Associated Press. It’s been 15 years and his identity is still unknown and the photo is still difficult to digest to this day. The falling man though reminds me of my graveyard shift days.

About 15 years ago, the software consulting firm I was working with decided to ride the call center boom in the Philippines. After working only less than a year as a Technical Writer, overnight my schedule swiftly changed, from the regular nine to six office hours, to following the US Time Zone starting at ten in the evening in Manila. Now as Product Specialist, I was part of the pioneering team for a campaign to sell websites to SMEs in the US. I hate working in the graveyard shift, I got sick the first week, and felt sicker the weeks after. I wasn’t exactly enjoying talking over the phone, much more overseas, it wasn’t the career I thought or planned I’d be into.

And in that fateful day of September 11, it felt weird at first that our lines are not going through, the shock sinked in when we learned from our LA counterparts of the attack, the Internet back then wasn’t ready for the traffic, and so all news websites went down or inaccessible, I was able to visit once, posting a single photo of the WTC area covered in smoke. Hours after, it went down as well. We were later dismissed early, no point of keeping us wait for the lines, even the news updates were scarce.

Days later, more articles and several photos and video footages have been coming out. When I saw that photo of people jumping from the building, I thought, I must have been one of them for wanting to escape from where I was at that time. But then I realized, I’m lucky I’m alive. And while the mystery of the falling man is left unsolved, it’s a reminder that, unlike him, we still have a choice, either to quit trying or keep on trying, and that we must be strong in times of uncertainties.

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