I’ve had a few harrowing experiences in my life.
As a child (I was probably 10), my cousins, my next-door neighbor and I found a dead body walking back from a local store one July. The deceased man had committed suicide by overdosing on aspirin. He lived with his parents a short distance from the wooded area where he took his life. I still, to this day, get “Yeah, right…” looks when I tell the story.
I had a close call once with what I thought was a nighttime tornado. It got so bad I took refuge in the closet in my apartment and helplessly wondered how my parents were doing a brief two miles away in the next town. It turned out to be a really bad thunderstorm.
Those two incidents don’t hold a candle to the chaos I encountered Thursday, Oct. 3rd, during the ASA legislative visits on Capitol Hill as part of NetworkASA 2013.
As I’m sure everybody knows by now, shots were fired Thursday afternoon on Capitol Hill — the result of a car chase between police and a woman.
When the shooting erupted I was with ASA Executive Director Chris Murin waiting outside New York Representative Daniel Maffei’s office. I was there to observe a meeting between Collins Pipe & Supply and Maffei’s and/or his staff members.
We arrived early to the meeting and decided to wait in the hallway at Cannon House. All of a sudden, odd noises came out of the intercom speakers, almost like someone was holding a transistor radio to the microphone. You couldn’t understand the muffled sounds coming out of the speaker.
I knew something was up when after the inaudible speaker announcement the doors on the fourth floor of Cannon (where we were) started slamming shut as if they were dominos falling in a row. Keep in mind, these aren’t flimflam doors. Take the weight of those heavy wooden doors and the echo they generate down the long hall after being slammed and you can imagine the sound it made.
The door-slamming triggered the “something-might-be-wrong” look on both our faces.
A short while later, one of Maffei’s staffers came out and told us it was probably a good idea to come inside. Less than a minute later it was confirmed there was a shooting on Capitol Hill. We were told to move to the interior of the office. All office doors within Maffei’s office were closed. The Capitol was on lockdown.
A staffer later brought out several bags that I’m guessing contained safety materials. I believe one of them had sets of gas masks. While that might sound a bit over the top, I’m glad they did it. Who knows what was lurking outside the door or outside the building.
The lockdown probably lasted around an hour. I must say the gentlemen who work for Maffei were tremendous. While being very professional, they kept their calm and made Chris and I feel as safe as we could be at the moment. Their demeanor and assistance helped put a huge dent in what could have been a panic- and anxiety-filled hour.
To say the least, ASA members had plenty to talk about at the Young Executives, Plumbing and IPD open houses last night. Chris and I certainly weren’t alone in our adventure. While it’s extremely sad what happened, I’m thankful nobody else was harmed.
Because of the chaos, I only was able to observe one full meeting between ASA members and their local politician. That occurred over in the Rayburn House building where a member of Pennsylvania Representative Jim Gerlach’s staff spoke with members from Bradford White and APR Supply about a number of hot-topic issues including the new energy efficiency requirements for water heaters and metal theft.
These types of meetings are critical. Gerlach and his staff now have a crystal-clear list of issues that are of great concern to businesses in his area such as Bradford White and APR Supply. There even was talk of arranging a visit for Gerlach to visit APR in the future.
Weldbend IPD breakfast with Bill O’Reilly
Oh, and Bill O’Reilly was here yesterday morning at the Weldbend IPD breakfast. O’Reilly was very good and while he looks and sounds just like he does on TV, I thought he came across as someone the audience could relate to (hard-working guy, two school-aged children). His presentation was a definite highlight of another outstanding Weldbend IPD breakfast event.
O’Reilly continued the trend of marquee speakers at the breakfast. What will Weldbend have in store for us in Las Vegas next year?
On the awards front, MKS Pipe & Supply’s Pat Adams was the recipient of the IPD Award of Excellence. Adams joins some elite company in that group of past winners.
In my final NetworkASA blog installment: George Will, James Carville, Mary Matalin and some final thoughts on NetworkASA 2013.