The coffee is brewing as I clack on these keys and I can hear a few sounds stirring from the chicken coop. I love the fact that the chicken run is right outside my bedroom window and I have no screen, it also allows for Hermes my big fat cat to jump in through the middle of the night at his leisure and snuggle with me. Hermes the cat has gone from a farm cat, to a city cat and now an alley cat and he still loves me. I am not sure if he loves all the sounds that come with the fast paced area we now live in, however he has adjusted with time. He knows to stay away from the dogs that we share a home with- he is so smart, I wish the chickens learned that too. I had to clip some wings to ensure the ladies did not fly over the fence again- I have eight hens- four young girls and four just a month or two older. No one has lost their life yet and no one is laying either, however that will change with time as well. The street is just a few houses away, it is a rather busy street and in the wee hours of the morning when I rise I can hear just a few cars swoosh by. The sound I love the most is the train. I prefer the silence mostly- birds, chickens and the coffee brewing. But if I had to hear different, the sounds of the train take me back to a time when all I could do was dream of what life was like. Life is good now. Life will always be good as long as I’m floating on this earth. I digress as usual.
Yesterday I had the pleasure of doing what I love to do most for my organization- I went to school. As part of my “Other Duties as Required” I get to deliver lifesaving programs to students in California schools in hopes that students gain some valuable information to make better choices for their futures. The information delivered varies on the grant-funding that I also have the privilege of honing my skills on, yes one of those other duties still. I love what I do.
As I was wrapping up yesterday’s program and thanking the students for their participation while asking the proverbial questions attempting to invoke some last minute thoughts before my departure as I gathered up my end of presentation evaluations- the overhead speakers came on- lockdown. Teachers we are on lockdown and please implement lockdown procedures. I looked around as the entire room shifted.
The teacher who I had been with, who was just laughing with me for all the technical issues we had for the day involving the incompatibilities with our equipment (she was a Mac user and I am not), rushed to the door and grabbed a cover which she then slipped over the window while she hit the lights. In moments she had directed us all into an adjoining room. I had been in the production room for the day, cameras and a make shift studio where the students practiced their media skills creating the school weekly news. The adjoining room was what seemed like the editing room, computers and cabinets everywhere with extra lighting stands lined against the back wall.
Doors were shut and all cabinets were immediately opened. The cabinets were tall free standing against the whole wall for optimal storage of all the equipment we were surrounded with. We were told to get on the floor and be quiet- the lights were off remember and in the back room there were no windows. It was dark. Just then the intercom went off again- lockdown, this is not a drill, and then there was nothing but silence.
As the teacher looked at me from across the dark room I could see all the high school kids I had just been joking with before while I tried to keep them involved with the presentation on their phones. All you could see was the dim lights that came from the windows of the outside room that penetrated the glass that separated the rooms and the lights from phones. I just sat there.
I will not exaggerate whatsoever on the time that passed- well over ten minutes. Ten minutes without another sound. The thoughts that race through your head. Seriously! This is it? This is how I go? What’s happening outside? What’s going on? Where are my kids? What will I do? All of that happened in moments. I chose not to send a text to the family group chat, I chose not to panic anyone. I did get one of those random texts from a long ago high school friend myself at that time. So I did respond to him about the current situation of events as he was sending short videos of his ride. I let him know they would have to be watched later- I was busy. Would later come?
At roughly eight minutes into our sequestered event there was a loud bang that echoed through the wall I was against. On the other side of that wall was the longest hall that I had walked down to gain entrance into the class that I was in. Where did the sound come from? Was it in the room with us? I couldn’t tell, I really couldn’t. The teacher whispered asking if one of us made that sound and the student nearest to me apologized. He had inadvertently leaned against something that fell from the wall and that was the bang. I looked at him through the darkness and laughed as I told him how much he scared me. We were immediately hushed.
Minutes later the intercom came on again- lockdown over. Other words were said but I really had no clue what they were. I got up, listened to the teacher apologize for keeping me so long after the day had ended and I left. Walking out the classroom door was eerie. That long hall was empty. The can from the janitor who cleans up at the end of the day with all the brooms and bags was just sitting lonely in the middle of nothing. As I kept walking and hit the corridor doors I entered the main enclosed campus area that led to the outside area. The students were everywhere and the chatter was endless.
I still don’t know what happened, I am not a news watcher. Was it even news worthy? The police were outside, but they were outside when I entered for the day. It is commonplace for police to be at schools today unfortunately – I know because I am constantly in school. So funny because when I was a student myself I was never in school. It just wasn’t my thing.
Well as I made my way to the parking lot I passed groups of students sharing how they were scared. How they were texting their parents how much they loved them. No one knew what was happening outside as we were locked down inside. Where had all the football players and outside students been rushed to? I heard students talking about how they were shut indoors, in the office and in classrooms. I kept walking to the lot. Parents were already there. Many I am sure had been there to pick up kids and just got swept up in the moments.
The moments no one thinks about when you wake in the morning, when you get ready for the day. When you try to figure out what outfit you will wear or what you will do in the evening when you get home. When you make your plans for the dreams you want in life that swirl around in your head.
Sitting in my car in that lot I finally texted my family. It was frightening. I let them know where I was and what happened and of course that I was OK. I turned the key on the ignition and I left. I shed a few tears on the way in amazement. This is what school is like today. This is what life is like today in schools all across America.
My hats off to that teacher, to the administration and to all schools across the US of A. They had knew and it was obvious they had practiced and been prepared for such an event. Do we pay them enough for this? Is this part of the job description today of teacher’s across America? Does this fall under “Other Duties as Required?” It does today.
The Chicken Lady