How a Brooks Brothers salesman inadvertently saved a man's life on 9/11

Dan Bobkoff / Business InsiderAntonio DeJesus, a former Brooks Brothers salesman, inadvertently saved a man’s life on 9/11.
  • It has been 17 years since the terrorist attacks of 9/11.
  • One man’s story from that day takes place at the Brooks Brothers store in One Liberty Plaza, next to the World Trade Center in New York City.
  • In Business Insider’s new podcast, “Household Name,”Antonio DeJesus, a salesman at Brooks Brothers, explains how he made a customer late to a job interview in the World Trade Center’s North Tower, a delay that ended up saving the man’s life.
  • To hear the full story of that Brooks Brothers store’s role in the 9/11 recovery efforts, subscribe to the podcast free here.

September 11, 2001, started out as an average day for Antonio DeJesus, a Brooks Brothers salesman who held the keys to the store at One Liberty Plaza, across the street from the World Trade Center in New York City.

“It was like 7:30 when we got there to open up, and then by 8:30 we [were] full-on business,” DeJesus told Business Insider’s Dan Bobkoff in the latest episode of the “Household Name” podcast.

DeJesus was the one who typically got things up and running in the store, making sure it was ready for its customers, whom he called “the typical Wall Street guy, the family guy, and, of course, the tourists.”

But that particular morning, DeJesus remembers, a man rushed in just moments after the store’s doors opened. He said he didn’t like his tie and needed to find a different one before heading to a job interview at Cantor Fitzgerald, the financial firm with offices at the top of the World Trade Center’s North Tower.

“I remember pulling out a white shirt out of the wall to place it there and took his jacket off and put it on the top and I was showing him ties,” DeJesus said. “‘No I don’t like this one, I like this one. No I don’t, no I don’t like that one.’ And we were like back and forth with the dilemma. It’s a normal thing. When you’re selling, you have to offer options, choices.”

The man left the store at about 8:45 and headed toward the towers. DeJesus recalls hearing what he believed to be thunder, followed by screaming and crowds of people fleeing. The North Tower, which was just 800 feet away from the Brooks Brothers location, had been hit. Soon after, the South Tower – just 500 feet from the Brooks Brothers – would also be hit.

In the following days, the Brooks Brothers store would become a morgue for doctors working to identify victims’ body parts.

| Hear the full story of the morgue at the Brooks Brothers on “Household Name.”

Brooks brothers antonio dejesus 5Dan Bobkoff / Business Insider

Exactly one year after the attacks, the store reopened at One Liberty Plaza across from Ground Zero. Not long after it reopened, a man walked into the store.

DeJesus overheard him talking to another sales representative.

“He is telling someone a story, ‘Oh I was here, and this guy helped me with a tie, and he was so indecisive and blah blah blah,'” DeJesus told Bobkoff.

It was the man who had planned to interview at Cantor Fitzgerald, which ended up being one of the worst-hit companies on 9/11. Nearly two-thirds of its workforce died that day.

But the man had never made it to his interview because he was delayed in Brooks Brothers looking for a tie.

“In this case, was just a coincidence that the guy came in and I’m the guy helping him and that I make him a little bit later, no late, he was already. But hey, if he feels grateful about it, hey, I’m happy,” DeJesus said.

“I don’t know his name because I never took his name or anything like that, but this is one of those things I keep thinking about when I think about 9/11 and everything that went on – and it was just that.”

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