In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, our Lower Manhattan-based offices were shuttered and without power. Our employees — spread throughout the greater New York area — hunkered down in homes that had varying degrees of power, running water, Internet connectivity, and access to medical care, food, and other essential services. Communication happened by email and text message and the occasional phone call, though often what we encountered was not being able to communicate at all.
For a company focused on words — defining them, explaining them, teaching them, celebrating them — it was frustrating not to be able to use them. And it was also an important reminder of how important words are. A ten-word text, a word from a colleague in an evacuation zone, the few words you might actually be able to hear during a garbled cell phone call became nearly as important to us as food, water, heat, and transportation.
Today, our offices reopen. We return to the business of putting words under a microscope, dissecting them, noting their mutations, and learning them. But before we do, we want to take a moment to savor the presence of words in our lives and be grateful to be back with them.