Like most of you, I think, I spent most of yesterday afternoon and night huddled over my laptop, flicking between tabs, scanning Twitter and news sites for fresh information about the attack on the Capitol while CNN blared in the background. Firsthand accounts of the scene in the Congressional chambers began to emerge in the evening. One passage from Washington Post correspondent Paul Kane’s story—which is full of astonishing scenes of senators and their aides realizing what was happening and helping one another to safety—especially struck me:
Somehow, Capitol food service operations still appeared to be up and running through the melee. At 4 p.m. and 5 p.m., hundreds of box lunches and bottles of water were rolled into the holding spot. Senators, staff, media and police wielding automatic weapons grabbed lunches of chicken and beef.
Just try to imagine being one of those food service workers: while an armed mob and security officers are running around and shots are being fired, you and your coworkers are still expected to make lunch for everyone and organize and assemble and pack the boxes and arrange for enough bottles of water and special meals to make sure that everyone down in the bunker will at least be able to face what’s coming on a full stomach, because bad as things are, they only get worse when people are hangry.
That, I am sure, amounted to thousands of boxed lunches if you factor in the members of the House and their staffs and media and police guards. Plus the special meals for people who don’t eat meat or have other dietary restrictions. And you know someone is going to complain, even in these dire circumstances, because someone always does, especially when they’re scared.
I’m not sure what sort of reward the Capitol food service workers deserve for keeping their heads and doing their jobs when everyone around them was losing theirs. All I can do is take a minute to salute them, and the janitors who swept up the broken glass before Congress went back into session, and the other workers who will have to repair the broken windows and replace all the things that the looters took, all the people who were directly affected by what happened yesterday and were scarcely mentioned at all. Thank you.