“Are You Still In the Office?”

Intersection readers in the DC-region, and many beyond, can probably recall the events of September 1, 2010 in Silver Spring, MD. It was the otherwise unremarkable Wednesday when James Lee took hostages at the headquarters of Discovery protesting Discovery Channel’s programming. Their headquarters was directly across the street from the headquarters of C.Fox Communications at the time. When Lee drew a handgun late that afternoon, police moved in, ending Lee’s life and saving those of the hostages.

At 3:37 pm that afternoon, before the situation ended across from our ninth floor office overlooking Discovery, I got an email from my dad in New Jersey. It asked simply, “Are you still in the office?”

At the time, I didn’t think about it much. I just replied briefly two-minutes later and moved on, while people far braver than I used skills far more important than mine to end chaos nearby.

When I re-read that email now almost six years since, the simplicity strikes me in contrast to the events of that day. Amid the complexity in so many lives and in so many ways a simple message stuck with me. It said so much, saying so little. The point was clear, without even being there. Perfectly thinly veiled masculinity. Something about it in the days following made me click File, Save As and I stored it away.

I say all of this as a reminder to intersection readers that you all have the ability to be powerfully profound communicators. You can all use communications for a change. You can all impact lives by what, when and how you communicate. Never forget it. Don’t always be so consumed by being technically correct, with process, the selection of every single word, your delivery, what channel you choose for your message, or always saying just “the right thing.” Those are all important things, but sometimes you just need to communicate. Don’t forget to communicate. Pick your spots. Find your voice. Connect with people. And remember simple sticks.

This Sunday would have been my dad’s 73rd birthday. He passed four months after that email. Happy birthday Dad. And yes, thankfully, I’m still in the office.