Sam Merrick thought he knew what to expect when he invited residents to his office for a meet-and-greet event. He might have been right if those residents weren't military families.
It was late 2002, he had just helped establish a privatized military housing operation in Southern California in the two years before, and the world was on edge following the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
Merrick wanted to have a pizza party for the residents -- something low-key and informal to say hello and thank you.
Residents came. They were mostly moms toting several children apiece, and they dominated the event, talking to each other and sharing experiences. Merrick and his colleagues ended up running around serving pizza while residents chatted.
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