All we can do

This week's column carries an admission charge: Before proceeding, please point your browser to and donate some of your gotten gain to the families of the seven Edgewater Technology murder victims—generously. I'll not have any whining about your dot-com, Nasdaq-portfolio woes here, people.

Yes, the very same we all know and monitor warily is captaining the donation drive, for real. FC proprietor Philip Kaplan isn't playing around this time; there's no punch line. No one could be that heartless. Oh, you could? Fuck you then and get away from my column; I don't want your company. (Hey, Montgomery Ward closed; go make fun of them for a while. Keep you busy while you take a coffee break at that place you work where none of this could happen to you.)

The horrible thing is that some among us sensed that a disaster like this was all but inevitable. The dot-com myth is that we thrive on stress. The dot-com reality is that no one thrives on this much stress. Even success (illusory or otherwise) takes an awful toll on its achievers, and when it all starts to fall to shit, the pressure increases logarithmically.

And while we were laughing at those who fell by the wayside (often with the cackling help of, the rough-draft Evelyn Waugh of our set), a lot of us knew that maybe things weren't so solid in our own companies either. More significantly, even if things were solid overall (as they appear to be at Edgewater itself), some coworkers are better able to shake off the pressure than others. Often the folks best equipped to manage stress—the ones with lives—have been regarded as weak somehow, as if having a family or a desire to disconnect from the office regularly is a sign that you aren't sufficiently evolved to partake of the Internet bounty. Eccentricity, not normalcy, was the quality more valued in the upside-down New Economy, in which profitability was optional and we planned to make money by giving away free stuff. Surprise: We got it backward.

At least we did if you believe the myth about who we are. The seven Edgewater victims leave real lives behind, real people now in permanent hell. Brian Wood's brother, Craig, worked at the same company and happened to get to the office late Tuesday morning, where Janice Hagerty was holding down the fort at the reception desk, filling in for coworkers on vacation. Louis Javelle's four kids lost their mother in 1992 and now they're orphans. Jennifer Bragg Capobianco's daughter still has a daddy, but Eva's only 2 months old and won't remember her mom. Paul Marceau raced bicycles for charity. Cheryl Troy's birthday was four days before mine. Rose Manfredi would have turned 49 the next day. It was Manfredi, by the way, whom they think the shooter was looking for: She was the person who handed out the paycheck envelopes every two weeks.

Why? Why shoot Rose Manfredi and all the others? Hey, guess what: A loner guy—maybe crazy, maybe not—got some guns and shot a bunch of people at his job. He had a beef—don't they all? The details are irrelevant. It's the usual story, it's Columbine and Long Island commuter trains and LA day care centers, and the dot-com nature of the business targeted is just an angle some people are using to differentiate this from America's general river of blood. You've heard it before; I've written it up for you before. I had hoped not to write it again, but I suspected I would have to—just as Second Amendment supporters would sooner or later have to argue again that more guns would have prevented such carnage, and gun control supporters would have to argue that fewer guns would have prevented it (and somewhere in Massachusetts a certain number of people would be annoyed that the whole situation cut into their soap opera-watching time). It will be ever thus.

So get 'em up, folks, get 'em up. After just 24 hours last week, the FC call for donations had 466 donors kicking in for a combined total of just over $10,000. There are (so far) three other funds collecting for the victims' families: one initiated by NewsEdge, an online content company whose employees had friends at Edgewater; one by Robert Chapman, one of Edgewater's stockholders; and one by Edgewater itself. The best and only thing you can do is give generously. Not a damn thing we can do to fix the larger problem, now or before the next time.

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