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This article was prepared for the September 11, 2002 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Between the Lines
In times of crisis, routines are helpful, and for newspapers,
they are unyielding. Once again, routine has helped U.S. 1 through
a difficult time, this time the September 11 strike on the World Trade
Center. That Tuesday morning, as we were preparing to send an issue
to the printer, we fielded Port Authority executive Bill Fallon’s
first call to his wife, our co-worker Brenda Fallon. Ten days later
the funeral was standing room only.
Not only did Brenda Fallon go through an ordeal of personal loss,
but it was also a time of national and international turmoil, so her
phone rang constantly. The Fallons have a prodigious global network
of friends and strong local ties. Everyone in the church and community
volunteered support — dinners, phone answering, and overnight
stays. Charities offered help. Every person who had ever crossed her
path wanted to talk to her, and many wanted to talk through their
own fears and be reassured.
Yet, as many who suffer from grief have found, it was the workplace
that could offer stability for a suddenly changed life. Fallon knew
that she could come to work as soon or as late as she needed to. Sooner
than might have been expected, she did come back, for just an hour
or two at first.
Meanwhile everyone in this 12-person office pitched in to handle her
duties, which include billing, accounts receivable, and administration
of our delivery system — a complicated planning patchwork based
on which deliverers can work which routes for which week. Not every
office can be so flexible, but taking on the extra work was our way
of helping, the workplace equivalent of baking casseroles.
We also had another role, to sometimes pretend all was normal and
sometimes lend a listening ear. Noting what our own reporters were
writing about how to deal with grief, we learned how to listen to
her and each other.
It is exactly one year after that Tuesday morning. Like everyone else,
we know more about dealing with grief in the workplace than we did
before. Like everyone else, we have found new ways to savor each day
and to appreciate new strengths within our organization. And we continue
to find solace in routine.
Robert Beck’s painting "Vestige" and the other
artworks featured on our front and back covers are from the exhibition
"After September 11," at the Bernstein Gallery of the Woodrow
Wilson School at Princeton University. In addition, three cover photographs
from the streets of Manhattan are from a series taken last fall by
Jay Plett, a computing systems administrator at Princeton University.
They came to our attention when Plett shared them with U.S. 1 photographer
Craig Terry, as the two discussed the question of switching from film
to digital. Plett, the spouse of arts editor Nicole Plett, took the
photographs with a Nikon D1x.
Most of the editorial space in this issue is devoted to the Preview
section and stories showing how writers and performing artists have
responded to the events of September 11, 2001. As always, your comments
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— the web site for U.S. 1 Newspaper in Princeton, New Jersey.