Sometimes, we get numb to the news of the moment.
War atrocities in Ukraine? Where's the remote?
Fires in California? Time to take the dog out.
Shortage of baby formula? Let's go see the latest Top Gun movie.
With all of the news these days — most of it bad and beyond our control to change — it's no wonder we might hear tragic news, ponder it a moment, then resume life as we know it.
One tragedy, however, made me stop and think. And think. And think some more.
The shooting in Uvalde, Texas, on May 24 that claimed the lives of 19 innocent schoolchildren and two brave adults hit particularly hard, well beyond the usual empathy we feel when tragedies such as these occur outside of our ZIP codes.
Anyone with a pulse feels the pain from this senseless killing and compassion for the victims and their families.
Losing a child is difficult. Losing a child or wife or mother like this is incomprehensible.
But for me, and really our industry, this tragedy is different. And it has nothing to do with the gun control debate that is raging throughout the country.
Uvalde, a town of 15,000-plus residents located 82 miles southwest of San Antonio, is home to Continental Tire the Americas L.L.C.'s Uvalde Proving Grounds (UPC), a 5,000-acre site dedicated to tire testing. Continental has operated the facility since it purchased General Tire in 1987.
The UPC features more than 30 test surfaces and specialty areas, including external testing as well as for emerging technologies such as Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) and electric vehicle technology.
It was less than three years ago when Conti hosted me and others in the industry to unveil and demonstrate a line of three intelligent construction tires for on-, off- and mixed-road use.
When one travels a lot, as we in the tire trade press often do — at least pre-COVID — the trips seem to blend into one another. Details often are fuzzy.
This trip, however, was different. I remember sitting in a classroom, learning about Conti's commercial tires as well as the facility we had just entered.
As the day wore on, we went from stop to stop, sometimes building to building, learning about this specific aspect of the new tire or watching a demonstration of its ability to perform certain attributes.
At every stop, a new Conti employee was there, pleasant, smiling, informative. They were men and women, young and old, whites and minorities, all doing their job and doing it well.
As details of the latest school shooting emerged, I couldn't help but see those faces and hear those voices all over again.
Each day, I have the same thoughts: Are their children safe? Are their friends' children safe?
Did those employees know any of the victims? Did they attend Robb Elementary School? Were they taught by the teacher who died protecting her students?
The mind knows these are rhetorical questions, but that doesn't stop the heart from asking them.
Conti officials describe employees at the test track as "devastated." Consider this one of the times when the English language doesn't have a word strong enough to describe human emotions.
There's a sense of helplessness that permeates tragedies such as this. But, in a small, meaningful gesture, I can help, you can help, the industry can help.
Officials have established three ways to donate money in order to support families directly affected by the shooting.
The First State Bank of Uvalde has established an account for donations. Those who want to donate to the Robb School Memorial Fund may call the bank at 830-278-6231. Questions should be directed to Roxanne Hernandez, Chance Neutze or Cody Smith.
Donations may be dropped off at any First State Bank locations for those in Texas, or they may be mailed to: P. O. Box 1908, Uvalde, Texas 78802. Checks should be made payable to Robb School Memorial Fund.
Donations are also being accepted through the Zelle digital payment network. Send funds online to [email protected] If Zelle requests a first and last name, use Robb as the first name and School as the last name.
Consider this one small way to help those UPC employees and their families. They are one of us.