The situation of what happened last week was chaotic, to say the least. Angie called me as soon as she found out -- around the time that it hit CNN and Fox News -- to tell me she was leaving. I stayed put here across the street from the center, because I was in a safe place and far away from the situation. Building 44 on site is a reasonably secluded place.
I mentioned the buidling to Eugen, our Canadian young engineer who is down here on a 6-month tour. He was a bit disturbed by the Virginia Tech shootings, and came to talk to me and my cubemate, Nellie, about it. We explained that these things happen, that no matter what a society does, people still go over the edge and hurt others. I mentioned the incident in Japan where a man killed several pre-schoolers with a sword. Nellie mentioned Andrea Yates, when she drowned her children in the bathtub. Eugen has been working closely with Rusty Yates, Andrea's ex-husband, and didn't realize that this was the situation with him. So Eugen was already dealing with a lot in one week when the situation at JSC came about. I told him that something was going on in Building 44, and Eugen's first reaction was "That's where Dave Beverly works; I hope that he's OK."
I have sort of worked with David Beverly over the past two years, but not actively. Dave was our contact for hardware stores, especially electrical parts. Eugen has been working with him closely during his tour, on the same project as Rusty Yates, buidling a cable that will allow us to keep a powered inspection boom on the ISS. When Dave was not available, he would send Will Phillips in his stead. I have been keeping a supervisory role in this -- I met Dave and Will in person, but only a couple of times (Dave more than Will), and not enough for them to make an impression, though. I have plenty of e-mail from Dave, that's for sure.
So, I was a bit suprised when it was announced that the incident at JSC was the shooting of Dave Beverly by Bill Phillips. Names I knew, yet I couldn't picture their faces. I didn't get to see those faces until seeing Houston Chronicle articles on them yesterday.
I don't remember David Beverly too well, but I sure did recognize Bill Phillip's face. That bothered me a bit -- I'm usually great with faces, but where did I know this guy from?
My Minister's blog provided the answer. Apparently, Bill was someone who came to my church a couple of times. Being one of the more social people in the congregation, I greeted him and introduced myself. I strain to remember the conversations, but I do recall little reaction from him for my words. I never let that bother me; people come to church for their own reasons, and he had his own reasons, too.
What I wonder about is how things could be different. For a while, I was running a Grief Recovery Group in the church. The group disbanded for lack of need after a while, but what if it was still going? Could it have helped these men? Could he have related with me over my own past problems with the whole performance appraisal system with JSC contractors? I refuse to lose sleep over this, for these men are gone, and I can't change that. I just know it didn't have to be this way.
Dave Beverly deserved better.
In my own company, my management is beginning to discuss how we can avoid a similar situation by doing things differently. I asked them if anything positive ever came out of performance appraisals. No one can answer that. Thousands of hours wasted each year, managers who avoid giving constructive criticism to their peers so they can use the PA as a "way out" of a difficult encounter, and almost every employee unhappy because the rules state that there has to be "at least one negative on every PA." Negative PAs lead to lower salaries and layoffs, the threat of which sent Bill Phillips over the edge. I'm hoping that my management decides to change things here.
I don't think any normal person would do such a heinous, evil thing that Bill did. But we all deserve better, anyway.