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Richardson Reacts

RICHARDSON, Texas – Far away from the disaster zones in the Northeast, companies in Texas's Telecom Corridor are open for business and trying not to be paralyzed by this week's events. "Some of our customers have central offices that were affected by the attacks and they need our support," says John Stewart, senior director of corporate communications for Fujitsu Network Communications Inc.

Traffic is light on the highways here as many workers who went home early on Tuesday stayed home with loved ones on Wednesday. Those who did go to work, however, are finding some comfort in just being able to discuss the attacks and their implications with coworkers and friends.

Like many companies around here, Xtera Communications Inc., a 140-person startup, has found that the big screen TV in its break room has been the primary gathering spot for the past two days. The company has been open this week, but business trips have been postponed and employees are being encouraged to take care of their families, says Sharlene Lin, Xtera's director of marketing.

Many workers here are venting anger at the terrorists responsible for Tuesday's atrocities, but it is hoped that such anger will be left at the water cooler.

The Islamic Center in Irving had some windows shot out and the Madinah Masjid, a mosque in Carrollton, had its front window shattered, according to local authorities. Those events are unrelated to Telecom Corridor, but they do cause many here to worry what might happen if intolerance trumps clear thinking. "Any high tech company is going to have a diverse work force and we do get worried that those workers will run into some sort of overreaction or backlash in their communities," says Lin.

Also at work here is the desire to help those who were hurt in Tuesday's attacks. Fujitsu Network Communications, which employs more than 2,000 people in North Texas, is planning to host a blood donation center at its corporate campus in the next couple of weeks, Stewart says. By that time, the initial surge of blood donors will have tapered off and the need will be as strong as ever, he says.

As folks settle back into their work routines, just about everyone will react to the tragedy a bit differently, says Susan Manning, an associate professor at the University of Denver Graduate School of Social Work. "It wasn't until I heard about the attacks on the radio that I realized how much my life was in danger back in 1993," says Manning, who escaped from the World Trade Center when it was last attacked by terrorists.

Manning says that many find going back to work helpful because it gives them something to focus on other than their own mortality. "You don't want people to deny their feelings about the tragedy, but they shouldn't stay [absorbed] in them forever," she says.

"You just can't let this kind of thing destroy your whole life," says Stewart, who splits his time between Boston and Richardson, Texas. "I don't think I'm going to change my travel routine," he says. "I would like to think that the U.S. government's intelligence resources are concentrating on finding those responsible and preventing future attacks of this sort."

- Phil Harvey, Senior Editor, Light Reading
http://www.lightreading.com
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