Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Accidental Bullet

CRACK! What sounded like a gunshot echoed directly outside of my open office window on Monday morning, startling my colleague and me. We looked at each other and one of us said, "that couldn't be what I think that was? Was it?" But it was.

A clear October morning interrupted by a single shot from a gun. A bullet from a gun that went off accidentally while the owner was cleaning his gun in an apartment directly behind my office. The bullet tore through his concrete wall and wooden window sill, continued over our patio, and drifted through the trees, dripping their autumn splendor. The accidental bullet entered our event center through the only open window in the entire room, whizzed past a table of people using the event center, slashed the carpet, and grazed an arm chair before embedding itself in the wall on the opposite side of the room.

No one was hurt because everyone was miraculously away from the open window that was cracked open a few inches. No glass was shattered. No one was hit as the bullet bounced up from the ripped carpet to finally rest in the wall.

The group who was renting the event center were obviously shaken and retreated to another, safer part of the building for lunch. This group dealt with people in crisis every day. Perhaps that prepared them somewhat and helped them cope with a random stray bullet interrupting their meeting.

Staff were visibly distressed. The police arrived to verify the 9-11 call that the incident was an accident. I watched them carry a very large rifle case out to the squad car.

I did not have to pull out the Crisis Communications plan that I wrote and did not put it into action. This story could have ended so differently as many horrible headlines ran through my mind during the aftermath. Someone could have been killed.

But that did not happen. Instead we revel in life. That accidental bullet stopped our world if only for a moment. It made us realize how truly fragile life is. Instead of managing a crisis, my colleagues and I along with the guests at the event center can rejoice! Amazingly, except for some holes in walls and carpet, all was well. Today and every day that we walk past that window, we will rejoice!

I must give credit to my colleague Julianne whose words inspired me to release this blog post.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

D. None of the above

Welcome back to the reality of the 2016 American Presidential election. Here is where we stand today:

A.  Hillary Clinton

B.  Donald Trump
C.  Random 3rd party candidate
D.  None of the above

We are now only 5 short weeks away from the end of this long, ugly race to the White House. Like most Americans I am looking forward to the end of a Presidential race that has brought us the political antics of Chris Christie, Bernie Sanders, and Ben Carson. However I am somewhat frightened about the actual outcome of this election. I do wonder how in a nation of 318.9 million people we ended up with Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton on the top of the ticket. [Insert your random political conspiracy theory here.]

I will not tell you who to vote for or against—the candidates and media do an excellent job of that every day. I don't have a candidate in this race. My candidate won the state of Minnesota but dropped out like the rest of the field of candidates. This Presidential race seems ripe for a 3rd party candidate to come in and steal the Presidency away from the party favorites. Alas, not one 3rd party contender has emerged.

Here in Minnesota there are at least nine names on the Presidential side of the ballot, ranging from Trump and Hillary to Evan McMullin, Independence Party, to Dan R. Vacek, Legal Marijuana Now, to Jill Stein of the Green Party. None of these 3rd party candidates can gain any ground against the Democratic and Republican parties.

This election has soured American politics. It is very sad when people who live and breathe politics are perplexed, dismayed, or even completely disengaged from this election. I've taken to watching Saturday Night Live skits about the debates instead of watching the actual debates. Anyone else doing this too? South Park as well. Perhaps injecting some humor into the Presidential election takes the edge off or makes me momentarily forget the reality of what is at stake. 

Only a few weeks remain for what is probably the largest voting bloc, undecideds, to make up their minds and turn out to vote. It would be a curious thing if the "undecideds" were the ones who decided the outcome of this election. Headline on November 9: Unprecedented! 'D. None Of the Above' Wins U.S. Presidential Election.