- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 7, 2002

T..J. Maxx and Marshalls stores will be closed until noon September 11. At 325 Stop & Shop Supermarkets, workers will wear red white and blue, and store managers will use the public address system to call for a moment of silence at 8:46 a.m.

Microsoft Corp. will let employees take a day off. Credit-card company Applied Card Systems of Boca Raton, Fla., with 4,500 employees, will be closed. FedEx Corp. will make counselors available and pay workers to volunteer for the day.

Across the country, businesses say they recognize that Wednesday, the first anniversary of the terrorist attacks, won't be business as usual. The challenge for them is striking a balance between honoring the moment and showing that life goes on, both for customers and employees.

Workplace experts say there is no one right way for a business to handle the anniversary.

“There will be some folks who will be profoundly affected,” said Barbara Reinhold, an organizational psychologist at Smith College in Northampton, Mass., who follows workplace issues. “And others will be cranky, saying let's get on with it. So a manager has to be careful, pretty strategic about crafting a response.”

That can be especially tricky for small businesses that might not have developed a strong company culture.

“All of us at the store have talked about what we should maybe do,” said John Henley, manager of the Great Northwest Bookstore in Portland, Ore. “Everyone wants to observe it somehow, but it's not like Christmas, where everyone knows they are supposed to get a tree or go to church. There's no set ritual yet.”

Some companies say they plan to unfurl American flags or encourage employees to wear patriotic pins. Many are planning moments of silence at 8:46 a.m., when the first plane crashed into the World Trade Center.

Locally, businesses are commemorating the first anniversary in different ways.

All the offices at the architectural firm Mancini Duffy, including the 20-person office in Washington, will be closed. The firm's main office was in the World Trade Center, where all 120 workers were evacuated safely last year.

The principals decided that closing the firm that day would allow employees to be reflective at home, said Arnold Levin, design principal at the District office.

Law firm Arnold & Porter is offering all its employees two hours of administrative leave that can be taken that day. The Washington office, which has about 1,100 employees, will have a gathering at noon to observe a moment of silence as well as have counselors there for employees.

Choice Hotels International, which has about 300 employees at its Silver Spring headquarters, will have a moment of silence at 9:37 a.m., when the Pentagon was hit a year ago. American flags will be distributed to all employees, and televisions will be on so workers can watch the news coverage throughout the day. The hotel franchiser will also hang “Thanks for Traveling” signs and fly its American flag at half-staff outside its building.

At the Baltimore office of defense-systems manufacturer Lockheed Martin Corp., employees are having a moment of silence followed by singing “God Bless America,” said spokeswoman Meghan Mariman.

“None of the offices are shutting down for the day, but each is doing some special event and has a liberal policy that day for people who may need to take off work,” she said.

“Here in New Mexico we were geographically distant from the events of September 11, but it has served to focus all Americans on things that are important for our company and community,” said Glen Wertheim, president of Charter Bank & Insurance in Albuquerque, which plans to pass out stickers saying “Let Freedom Ring” and “Proud To Be An American.”

In Michigan, Detroit Edison Co. asked employees how they wanted to mark the anniversary, spokesman Scott L. Simons said. The workers settled on several ideas, including a memorial service during which a chime will ring over the company's PA system four times once for each of the hijacked planes.

The 15,000 field technicians for Atlanta-based Bell South will drive with their headlights on to honor the victims. Framingham, Mass.-based TJX Cos., the parent company of T.J. Maxx and Marshalls stores, will have a nationwide moment of silence before its stores open at noon. The company recently opened a memorial and learning center to honor the seven employees it lost aboard one of the hijacked planes.

In many places, however, workers said they don't need big rituals.

“I think people, probably in their own way, will find a way to honor the fallen people,” said Larry Slasinski, 48, who works in payroll services at the Detroit headquarters of General Motors Corp., which plans a moment of silence and to fly flags at half-staff. “Do we need a day off? I don't think so. I think we need to move on.”

In downtown Boston, lawyer John Ryan said his 20-person office would do nothing out of the ordinary.

“It'll just be another day at work,” he said. “We have a lot of bad things happen in the world, but we can't go back and undo them.”

And at the New Yorker Delicatessen in Richmond owner and native New Yorker Ken Boettcher said he worried that any effort to commemorate the anniversary might be misinterpreted.

“I really don't want to commercialize it, and in my opinion, there's already been too much done with that,” he said. “I'm not looking to make a dollar off this, and frankly that's how I would view it if someone else did something.”

Helen Darling, president of Washington Business Group on Health, an industry group that advises large businesses on mental health issues, said it is important not to go overboard.

“Any of us, sometimes we start talking about it and it makes us sad again,” she said. “On the one hand, you don't want to be cold-hearted and indifferent, but at the same time not create a lot of problems and pain.”

Still, she said, employers should at the very least give workers the time and emotional space they might need to gather their thoughts.

“One of the things we know is people don't shut their brains or hearts off when they walk into the workplace,” she said.

• Donna De Marco and Marguerite Higgins contributed to this report.


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