One of my favorite older articles may not be my best work. But it contains an amazing story.
…After a tornado passed overhead and shattered the windows in the building in the early 1970s, “[Bob Parsons] told himself at that moment, if he built a bigger business, he would make sure it was safe for the employees,” Manager Craig Joraanstad said.
The article I wrote for Business to Business magazine covered the installation of three restroom-shelters and protocols that included employees trained to spot storms. Employees, construction workers and even a visitor at Parsons Company for an interview on July 13, 2004, survived an F-4 tornado in Roanoke, Ill., without a scratch, according to Joraanstad. Parsons announced employees would keep full salary, overtime and benefits, thanks to his business income insurance, while the facility was rebuilt.
But the magic isn’t in the words as reported. It’s behind the words – a larger story of a business owner who thought beyond the bottom line and who felt driven to protect the souls in his care.
Stories like these ignite empathy. We imagine stepping outside those shelters into the debris of an otherwise flattened building. We connect with the 150 survivors through our own “life is short” memories of waiting for medical test results, or a near-miss on the interstate, or a loved one who died too young.
These moments quietly nudge us into considering what we value, who we’ve helped and where we spend our time. We thank the people who work to keep us safe.
Then we fall back into our everyday errands. For a little while, we forget we are like spiders, busy and fragile.
Recent headlines shout the ways life is beautiful, messy and limited. That’s the power of story, and every story matters. What’s yours?
Photo of Roanoke, Ill., tornado on July 13, 2004, by Steve Smedley. © The Pantagraph. Used with permission.