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After the first plane hit the World Trade Center on Tuesday, people working in the second tower, sensibly, sought to escape. As they reached the 44th floor, a man with a bullhorn told them, according to a quote in today's New York Times, "Our building is secure. You can go back to your floor. If you're a little winded, you can get a drink of water or coffee in the cafateria" Some ignored the man - one escaping worker said "I really felt like punching that guy." But many others, no doubt having had obedience and efficiency imprinted in their minds since business school, turned around and returned to work.

I am confident that the intent of the announcement was not to cause death, although it surely had that effect. Rather, the emotional trauma of seeing and feeling their sister tower shattered accidentally (as was thought at the time) was not going to be allowed to get in the way of a productive business day at the rest of the complex.

"If you really need a break, get some coffee, but then go back to work" is a refrain many of us have no doubt heard from a boss at one time or another. It's probably used in training manuals for managers who need to get more work out of their lazy workers, who, we all know, will use any excuse to get the day off from work.