Everyone in Washington State is very proud of two cable guys who did something really remarkable, made headlines and don't get what the fuss is about.
Comcast supervisor Aaron Mefford and technician Jeff Furth are based in our Aberdeen office in Grays Harbor County, a lovely, rural area south of Seattle and west of Olympia. Aaron and Jeff were in the small inland town of Montesano about 10 miles west of Aberdeen, installing service at a customer's home. As they were working, the customer came to the rear porch and said she'd just seen a jail inmate in a dark blue jumpsuit running through the alley. Shortly after, a flood of law enforcement officers came running along.
Both men, being public spirited, started looking around. After the group had passed, Aaron continued to look around the alley. Turns out, the fugitive was tucked away hiding between two buildings and was rubbing at his handcuffs, trying to get them off. Aaron saw the sparkle.
"I yelled at him, 'Hey, I see you under there -- come out now and get on the ground,'" Aaron recalls. "I said, 'I mean it, I see you get out here now!' And he did, he came out."
Aaron took the guy by the arm and counseled him to give himself up, leading him toward the street. Then Jeff came up. At that point, facing a second captor, the inmate bolted. Both Aaron and Jeff chased him about 50 feet to a six-foot cedar fence. The man hopped onto the fence and clutched the boards, scrambling to climb it and get away. Aaron and Jeff pulled him off the fence. The man wouldn't let go and was pulled off with splintered boards still in his hands. Then, Aaron and Jeff held him against the fence.
Aaron later summarized this moment for KOMO TV, the Seattle-based ABC station, in what has to be the Quote of the Year for 2011: "He was going to have to carry about 400 pounds of cable guy out if he wanted out, so he wasn't going anywhere."
Jeff called 9-1-1 and the two men walked the man around the alley where the deputies claimed him. How did our Comcasters celebrate? They didn't. What's to celebrate? Jeff, consistently ranked among the top performing technicians in Washington, went on to do two installs. Aaron finished up there and returned to the office to approve timecards and other paperwork. This was pretty much a normal day to them. When Aaron went home, he began studying for a math test for a course he's taking and didn't even tell his wife. To Aaron and others who work here, seeing things when you're on the streets is part of your job as a cable guy. Ten years ago, while himself a technician, Aaron had helped save a woman from a kidnapping. We are eyes and ears for a community. And sometimes we're the arms.
The next day, local radio stations and the daily paper had stories about the cable guys who captured a jail fugitive. Aaron and Jeff both seemed honestly surprised that all three major Seattle TV stations wanted them to recreate their chase. "Modest heroes," said Lori Matsukawa, news anchor at the NBC affiliate KING 5 TV.
To Aaron and Jeff, what they did was no big deal. They just did something you do as a member of a community. If only everyone felt this way. Even if their act did not make them heroes, their attitude does.