Thursday...headed in to town and I get a call from Mrs. Creek. This was one of those calls that send giggles rippling through society in all directions. Ripples that turn into waves and even storm surges of chicken little over reaction born of paralyzing paranoia.
"Some students" had heard "some students" talking about bombs "that would make people sick" and "Whammo!" The whole Emergency Management thing kicks into high gear and disrupts everything. So much for the end of term test schedule and any semblence of rationality in the public decision making process.
Rules! We got rules! We know for a fact that not everybody has a rational thought process that would bubble to the fro and say, "Uh...Why don't we go talk to the "some students" and ask them about this before we go flying off the handle into Red Alert? or is it Orange? Anybody remember how that went and where, exactly, did we put the duct tape?
(I would paint this whole thing a bright chickenpoop Yellow, myself)
"They want us to check them out of school," Mrs. Creek said over the phone. So off I go, to pick up the highschool son at wherever they marched them in the rush to evacuate the bowels of Roane County High.
First it was the bleachers at the football field. Bleachers...excellent spot to hide from bombs. Fine, except that it was raining...a much more serious threat than a bomb, this rain.... so the evacuees were marched down the street to the Baptist Church gym for safety. Personally, I do not consider my child particularly "safe" inside a Baptist church and, yes, this was THE Baptist Church that is making the world a safer place by protecting young minds from the poetry of ralph Waldo Emerson. The palpable threat is to my child's critical thought processes whilst incarcerated inside a Baptist Church..."Oh my god!" went the paranoid little man living in my head..."he's been captured by... Baptists!...Oh the Humanity!"
I arrived at the first Kingston police car with the flashing lights Three of Kingston's finest huddled together against the fender. this part of my quest went very smoothly and they sent me to the church gym to rescue my son.
"They told us not to let them go," said the nice lady, when I told her I was there to get my son.
"Has he been arrested?" I asked.
"No, but 'They' told us not to let them go."
Reality set in as I realized...My progeny is being held captive...The Baptists have finally gotten him!
One mother had seen her child inside the gym. he came out and his mom took him by the hand...but he was taken away from her...ordered back into the gymnasium...snatched away by the evil clutches of the offspring of bureaucracy married to fear.
Then the words were uttered! The most feared words ever heard by the inner child of anyone who has attended school in the United States of America, "Go to the Office!" they said..."Go to the Office and you can have your child."
The children had been distributed all over the church by now, and were having a fine time calling each other on their cell phones. their main concern was becoming more and more obvious...Lunch! Sure it was fun for a while but now they're hungry. What's the government going to do about that? Not much, as it turned out. When "Some Students" were overheard talking about a bomb that would make people sick...Logical thought processess demanded that the school cafeteria, known to be a source of the much dreaded "gut bomb", be shut down.
I stood in the atrium where church and school officials scurried about asking each other what was going on and what to do. The church receptionist had tried to send everyone away at first but she was overwhelmed, if not subdued, by the crush of parents waltzing in through the doors she was wishing she had locked. "They sent us here!" the parents all said. "Oh," said the church lady.
"Mr. S______, Mr. S______," said a voice from above...Mr. S______ would be me!
The voice from above said my name again..."Mr. S______"
"Oh, Damn!" said my inner pagan. "The voice from above is calling my name!"
"Hi, Got anything to eat?" said the son of a friend of mine from the balcony.
Looking up I saw several teachers I knew...one of whom is on our blogroll..."It's kind of like when they rounded us up back in the sixties at the Nixon protest march," he said.
Finally, we got to sign a piece of paper and wait some more. The line to sign went pretty slowly. (Some Roane Countians take a long time to make the capital letters at the start of their names.)
My son had called me..."Where are you?" "I don't know...I think I'm in the basement."
I was standing next to a stairwell and, since none of the school people seemed to have a gun, I walked through the door and down the stairs just like I was in charge. Stepping out of the stairway and into the hall, there he was, grinning big as always. His teacher was standing next to him. The teacher leaned over to me and asked in a confidential voice, "Uh, what's going on?"
"the parents are signing the kids out so they can leave." I told him. Not entirely untrue. I smiled at him, he smiled back (knowingly), and my son and I went back into the stairwell. Thinking about how best to make our break, I decided the brazen path was best...back through the gaggle of school and church officials we went with the confident air of the righteous. Into the atrium we strode smiled at everybody and out the door we went.
It was a great escape. Might even make a good movie if I could think of a catchy title. I looked at my son and he looked back at me..."Can we get something to eat?" he said.
Two hours later we were driving back through town after running errands and having a fine meal together at the coffee shop and deli. The woman who had been right behind me in the signing line was just walking out of the church with her son in tow.
"M___ is just getting out of there...You broke me out, didn't you dad?
OK, So....I've had some fun wiht this but in all, the folks who were in charge really were trying to do a good job. Even the church people were concerned and tried to do everything they could to help. I'm glad the kids could stay inside and out of the rain. The problem is that 4 years after 9-11, we still don't really have a plan or a clue! Confusion was the order of the day, though the teachers and staff did muddle through. I have been told that two students(?) have been arrested...for what, I don't know.
The real problem is that while we still don't have a good plan...we do still have the fear!
Our blogroll teacher was joking about it being "Bush's fault" but in actuality...it really is!