Monday, December 11, 2006

Workplace Terror, A Little Too Close To Home

A ho-hum typical workday Friday was interrupted with news of a shooting one block from my job. I was seated away from the 7th-floor window instead of near the window, which is where I usually sit. So when I asked a colleague about all the buzz going around the floor about something happening in the area, she simply pointed out the window at the phalanx of cops and blue lights down the street. The building has a food court on the ground floor that I visited for lunch nearly every day when I first started working with Chase until I discovered some Italian restaurants nearby. And I don't take lunch until late in the day, usually past 1P, because most of our work comes in the morning thanks to FedEx and DHL. So many co-workers and I weren't very far from being caught up in this drama, since the gunman decided to strike around 2:30P or so. On top of that, I cut through that building to get to one of the trains I have the choice of taking home when I leave at 4:30P. In fact, I took that train home Friday, gingerly stepping around police barricades and TV cameras and groups of onlookers, some of whom may have been in the building and may have witnessed the beginnings of this nightmare. The buzz in my workplace when it was time for me to leave was that "They got him," meaning that those afraid to go home thinking there might be a nut on the loose right outside our doors could breathe easier. I was wearing my headphones while I worked, so I didn't know what the hell "They got him" meant; like I said, the first I heard about the shooting was when I looked outside right before I left. I cut through the building on the way to work Saturday moring and this morning, and the usually jovial and busy food court doesn't look as inviting when it's flanked by security. It's just another sad reminder of the world we live in.

Oh, one more thing: I wonder if I'm the only person who thinks this way, but I didn't know what race the shooter or the victims were when I heard a co-worker speaking of the shooter in a sympathetic manner. The co-worker is black. She talked about how the gunman was upset about his invention being stolen by the inhabitants of the attorneys' office on the 38th floor, and that's why he busted in there with guns blazing. I was throwing out some general "Oh, he was nuts before this invention business came about" lines, but she was persistent that she felt bad for the guy because he felt he was wronged and that made him snap. Am I the only person who immediately saw a black woman feeling sorry for a guy who shot three unarmed people and thought, "Oh, the guy must have been black?" And sure enough, she eventually said that she saw his pastor on the news last night telling his story, leading me to look inside today's paper and find the shooter's picture. Am I wrong here? How could anyone show sympathy for this guy? I don't care how he felt, he walked into an office full of people who never had anything to do with his situation and opened fire. Sure, he got his target first, but he wasn't being choosy by the time he got to his third and potentially fourth victim. At that point he was just ending lives for sport. I didn't tell the co-worker this, but I don't see how the hell she could possibly have felt sorry for this guy unless she had seen him and his black pastor on TV. Whatever his plight was, whether he really was ripped off or not, the man was insane. He had a lifetime of hurt built up before he decided to go on this rampage. Trust me, I know of what I speak. I don't know his story at all, but black or white, I guarantee this shit about his invention being stolen was only his tipping point, not his sole source of rage.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There's a small part of me that understands the guy's rage if he was really ripped off by this law firm. Can't help but root for the underdog. But that's no excuse to go in blazin' and shoot folks. Black or not, his killing of innocent folks negated any sympathy I might have had for him.

I have to admit that whenever I see disasters like this on the news, I silently pray it wasn't a black man. We have enough to deal with, without adding yet another suspicion to our burdens by people who look at us and say "If one of 'em did it, all of 'em did it."

But I think you're right. The invention thing had to have pushed the guy over the edge. No way this nuttiness was a one time deal.