Tribute to New York SharePoint 2001 with 9-11 Reflections

As a newish SharePoint Admin and early SharePoint Advocate, I was a member of the internal SharePoint DL.  When New York was shook by the devastating effect of the fall of the towers, and so much more. Planned for that week in New York was Internet World.  The event was to be postponed till December.  The SharePoint Marketing team was looking for people who were interested in helping man the SharePoint booth for Internet world.  The dates for Internet world got pushed out, and apparently staffing the booth was becoming more difficult, so a message was posted to the DL to discover if anyone with SharePoint experience, and ability to travel could attend the booth.

I had followed the events.  I still remember the morning I was on the internet and saw the news.  I had my wife, Virginia turn on the TV and simultaneously we would try to figure out what was going on.  Personally that event made me turn to the internet and AM radio, because I couldn’t get enough from TV and that event alone was enough to make me think of TV news as inadequate and not providing what I needed.  The internet was all that could satisfy my cravings for more.

Having read the message I thought, hey I wonder if I could do this.  I sent in my interest and let them know my background of having nearly a year of experience with SharePoint across both SharePoint Team Services and SharePoint Portal Server 2001.  The product itself had been out for a few months, so I felt like I might have a decent chance if I could get permission from my boss.  When it came back that the marketing team could pay for my flight, my boss was cool with it since it didn’t necessarily take away from work.  I had spoken at an internal IT conference that summer (IT 2002 in Chantilly, France) and this would be my first external conference.  Event though I wouldn’t be speaking I was excited to go.  I hadn’t ever been to New York, and SharePoint would get me there.

After arriving in New York, I figured out my hours for the booth, put in my time and made some great SharePoint friends including many of the technical sales team in Office Productivity from New York.  I had to see ground zero.  I asked the locals, and so I ended up on the subway near Wall Street.  They talked about the trains lines that had been impacted.  When I got there the metal chards were high in the air.  The buildings were still smoldering and the buildings near by had broken windows and were obviously abandoned.  Walking around there was ash in the graveyard and the notes to loved ones and missing people were on a wall.  People gathered to mourn. The streets had been cleaned up, but the emotion of it all was still very thick.  It took all that I had seen on the Internet videos, and TV very real.

The city itself was starting to catch its breath.  I wanted to do my best to support Broadway, and so I went to Beauty and the Beast. A show that I saw as being somewhat connected though some of the images I’d seen on TV of Broadway’s support for the families.

After seeing Macy’s all decorated in Christmas decor, I went up to the top of the Empire State Building and thought about how the Manhattan skyline would be changed forever.  For lunch I was at a restaurant right around Rockefeller center.  As I sat there eating my raviolis I started chatting with the guy next to me.  I asked him if he knew how to get tickets to the Daily Show.  With my cravings for news I had found John Stewart’s perspective on the news enjoyable.  He replied as he picked up his cell phone that his previous personal secretary now worked at comedy central, as he waited for her to pick up, he explained that if I had asked for Conan O’Brian or SNL he could have more easily helped.  I explained that I’d be here for a few days and I would be interested in whatever he could do.  Wow, I was sitting next to a producer of NBC.  Incredible!  He asks, “can you be over there at 5pm?”  “Sure,” I replied.  Within a few hours I’m at comedy central with VIP tickets and watching the show.  Before I left he asked if I was going to be around on Saturday.  I told him I would be willing to change my flight in order to make SNL.  I’m so glad I did.  Ellen was the host, it was the Christmas special.  Mayor Rudi Giuliani made a special appearance, and I even caught him on his way to the show with a rash of body guards.  Having seen his face all over the screens for the past couple months it was surreal to see him in person.

There was a lot more that happened including sitting next to Queen Amidala herself, going backstage and having a short but awkward conversation with Jimmy Fallon about his mom who I had met earlier that day.

What I want to leave with you is how New York left such an incredible impression on me.  I fell in love with THE CITY and it’s made quite the impression from 2 family trips, 2 SharePoint Saturdays, 2 Quest events, Deloitte SP consulting global gathering event and a special MS SharePoint training/event.  Each of those trips included rich experiences providing lasting memories.  Thanks to all the New York people and experiences Inna, Tony, Bob, Mark, Michael, Jeremy, TJ, Benito, Becky, and many more for all the great times! 

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