1992

I was promoted to general manager of the Los Angeles lab in 1988.  We had about 35 employees at the time.  At the end of April in 1992, the riots and looting started after the verdict in the trial of the police officers involved in the Rodney King beating.  On the second day of rioting (Thursday), the rioters were moving close to our location.  I sent all of the employees home on Thursday and told them not to come back until Monday.  I stayed to close the office and I came back on Friday.  I was the only one there on Friday answering the phones all day.  Fortunately, there were no problems.  We did not have much to loot but we were surrounded by flammable gases that could have been a target.

At the same time as I was working in Los Angeles, I was taking MBA classes at night in Long Beach which was another area where the riots, fires and lootings were raging.  I remember standing on a balcony of the multi-floored building and looking at the fires burning in the city at night.  I had one employee who was in the middle of the action in Long Beach.  I called him on Friday night to see if he needed a place to stay.  He said he was surrounded by looters and other unsavory characters and he had lost his power.  But he decided to stick it out and protect his property.  At the end of our conversation, he said: "If I don't make it, I just want you to know that you've been a good boss."  It was a long weekend but he was OK when I saw him the next Monday. [JAM 9/8/2010]