We find ourselves once again without a home, thanks to a dysfunctional urinal in the men’s room at Signature Salon upstairs.
I was already feeling overwhelmed by my to-do list when I got the call from Circulation Director Brandy Collet at 7:30 this morning. She’d gone to the office early, her sick and feverish son in tow, so she could finish closing out our mailing list for the July magazine before taking Gunnar to the doctor.
“We’re flooded again,” she said.
I jumped into jeans and a Desert Vista High School T-shirt I got from my brother’s family. (His son Ben is on baseball team there.) When I arrived, I was almost physically ill. It was just like two years ago. Water raining down from above, ceiling tiles swollen and disintegrating, puddles everywhere, papers and magazines soaked, boxes of office supplies and financial records leaning like the Tower of Pisa because their foundations were sodden.
A restoration crew has been at the office since about 11. They have sucked up all the standing water on the floor and set up some of those huge fans we all remember from the last time this happened (almost to the day, two years ago). We will not be able to work in there tomorrow, or the next day.
The last time this happened, we moved everything into my home for what ended up being three long months. I won’t do that again. My family is hosting a fundraiser for Dr. Richard Carmona’s U.S. Senate campaign next week. (My 26-year-old son Andy is the campaign’s communications director.) I can’t have our guests stumbling over boxes and crates.
The property manager at our building has promised to make a space available to us in what was once the American Insurance office right next to nearby Arizona Bread Company. Though it is 1,000 square feet smaller than what we have now, it is probably adequate. The setup is very similar to what we had five years ago at 4545 E Shea–a long hallway with offices lining one side. The biggest one will go to the sales staff; five more separate offices will be divided up among the rest of us.
I was amazed at what my staff was able to accomplish today despite the upheaval and emotional distress. Art Director Michelle-Renee Adams was able to move her computer from her office (once again the worst one hit) to a dry outlet in one of the sales cubicles so that she could make corrections to our July blueline (final proof). She returned the blueline to Courier Graphics this afternoon, only a couple of hours later than we typically get it back. Larry Babka at Courier has been very supportive and understanding. He will “make it work”…whatever we need him to do.
Marketing Director MaryAnn Ortiz-Lieb was making sales calls and collecting media packets while slopping through puddles in her flip flops. Account Executive Catherine Griffiths stopped by between meetings and Account Executive Susie Drake was at the office for awhile making phone calls, despite the fact that her day started with her son Mason at the emergency room with a smashed hand, a black eye and a painful bruised hip (a long board accident at a friend’s house).
Brandy eventually moved her computer home so she could work with the circulation database installed on it and complete her close. She has been characteristically calm and efficient throughout this day, despite the fact that she was up all night with Gunnar, who has been sick all weekend. (While she was moving wet items onto dry corners of carpeting she got a call from her daughter’s summer camp–Taylor now has the same upper respiratory infection her brother has, so Brandy had to leave in a hurry to pick her up.)
Production Manager Tina Gerami came to work today with her two children. (We often have kids in the office during the summer months; they are all well behaved and self-sufficient and I love the energy and sweetness they bring to the office.) Tina was wide-eyed as she took in the extent of the damage but her kids took everything in stride. At one point I walked down the hall past the sales cubicles and saw Jaden and Loren calmly enjoying a picnic on a red-and-white plaid blanket from home. I’m sure they will remember this day as a great adventure.
I’d called two of my new interns, Anna Gunderson and Christina Cummings, to warn them about what was happening and give them the option to stay home. They both came in, wearing shorts and flip flops, ready to help us move. When it became clear we had no place to move, we switched gears. As huge vacuum hoses moved in, I showed Anna first, then Christina, how to get on the RAK email, how to post to stories to our website and how to access our social media. Though I was juggling interruptions from phone calls and fighting a growing sense of panic, these young women acted like it was any old business day, listening attentively to my explanations and then heading home to continue their work on our behalf.
I even heard from a former intern, Emma Zang-Schwartz, who saw Dan Friedman’s pictures on Facebook post and offered to come help if we needed her.
Tomorrow morning the restoration company will be in early to set up additional fans. I am meeting the insurance adjuster at 9:30. We’ve cancelled a 10am sales meeting.
I hope to have a temporary lease signed for the new space by noon. Once we know we can get in, Leon Hauck, our IT savior, will come to assess and create a plan for migrating our systems. I have the phone company on alert that we will need our phones moved as well.
Tina took charge of scheduling movers to take our belongings over there. I am guessing Thursday will be the official moving day. Until then, everyone will work from home and do the best they can to move things forward.
When Brandy sent me an update late this afternoon, I wrote back to thank her for being “such a trouper” throughout such a stressful day. Then I wondered what that word really means–so I looked it up: “A reliable and uncomplaining person.”
Now that I know the real definition, I can say with great confidence that ALL of my staff members are real troupers. Despite this and so many other challenges, they just keep doing what they need to do. I am lucky, and forever grateful.