Mass shootings, the Early Shifters and Me
September 18, 2013
I’m still processing the mass shooting on Monday at the Navy Yard. I suspect I will be for quite a while. I work in Southwest DC and was just getting off the bus when I heard the driver’s radio mention that shots had been fired somewhere in DC. This is not an unheard of thing in DC, although odd that the bus dispatcher would mention it. But it had been an absolutely horrendous commute that morning.
As I stepped off the bus at the Native American Museum, it seemed like every vehicle in the region with a siren went screaming by, headed south. Not rushing like an ambulance with a critically-ill patient. This was a more floor-it-through-the-intersection sense of urgency. The police cars were all driving like the Syrian Suitcase Nuke Brigade had just landed on the northern bank of the Potomac. Something was seriously wrong.
I did what everyone else did: I went to work, worked, checked the rising body count on the internet, grimaced, worked more, checked the rising body count, grimaced. Rinse and repeat. We’ve done this all before many times, right?
Except this time there was the added horror of there possibly being other shooters in the area – the area being in the same city I was in. The Navy Yard is only a few Metro stops away from where I work. It only dawned on me today that I was not only in the same city as a mass shooting, but relatively nearby. I’ve hung out with coworkers up 8th street from the Marine Barracks after work. I have friends, coworkers and acquaintances who work in or live near Navy Yard, are permanently camped in the stands of Nationals Park, or are close by in Southwest, Capitol Hill and other areas.
This was the first mass shooting that happened where it was not in some other place. That hits you a little more in the solar plexus whether you want to admit it or not. It’s not just a blanket statement that any of us could be the victims – in this case, I was just 2 miles away – a walkable distance.
And when I read about the victims in the Washington Post’s remembrances, it wasn’t just the close proximity and being fellow Feds that I learned we had in common. The Post writeup suggests that they were like a lot of people I know and see all over DC; at the office, on my bus, getting breakfast before the sun is up: good people, dedicated public servants, and Early Shifters.
They were all older than me and at work earlier because, I suspect, they didn’t have to take kids to school. I will probably become one of them in a year or two.
A coworker has said that it pays to arrive at work later because terrorist attacks/mass shootings seem to happen before 9 am: the Oklahoma City bombing, 9/11, Navy Yard, Newtown. Assholes with death wishes seem to want to get it over with shortly after breakfast. (She has a point, but I think these assholes are Late Shifters who just don’t like Early Shifters).
But Early Shifters wouldn’t alter their schedule over some risk like that. That’s just not how we roll. Early to bed, early to rise, etc. Heck, some would prefer to be there to try to help if an Early Shift disaster hits. The victims were living the three truths about being an Early Shifter in DC:
- beat the traffic,
- accomplish more
- enjoy the evening
Here’s to my fellow Early Shifters who were in the wrong places at the wrong times doing the right things. I hope that their families, friends and coworkers will find some consolation in that this tragedy will highlight the work they did, the lives they led, and show the country what goes on in the capital every day on its behalf.
- Michael Arnold
- Martin Bodrog
- Arthur Daniels
- Sylvia Frasier
- Kathleen Gaarde
- John Roger Johnson
- Mary Frances DeLorenzo Knight
- Frank Kohler
- Vishnu Pandit
- Kenneth Bernard Proctor
- Gerald Read
- Richard Michael Ridgell