sagesaria: (raaaaage)
[personal profile] sagesaria
I've been thinking about this for a while lately, and I thought I'd share it, because it's one of those few times in school where I've actually felt trapped in a box with Da Rulez. And I could see a million ways out that I couldn't use because Da Rulez said it wasn't allowed. I've been seething a bit about it for a long time, especially since I got into an argument about it with someone a while back and I still don't understand where they were coming from on it. I really wanna know if there's just something I'm not seeing or if she was just full of it.

It was my Junior year of high school, barely even three weeks into the semester. I was in my fifth period Spanish class, when suddenly the PA beeps on with an announcement that there have been reports of a gas smell in the building and we have to evacuate. We grab whatever we had with us in the classroom and head outside, across the street to the parking lot of the local library.

Now, this isn't the part that was the problem. It's a perfectly reasonable start. But here's where the trouble lies. It was the beginning of the semester. Not even beginning to be fall yet. Hell it didn't even feel like fall was coming. For those who don't live in the DC area, let me boil it down for you...Maryland has exactly three seasons; Fuckin' Hot, Fuckin' Cold, and What the Fuck is Going On. This day was of the former season. You could fry an egg on the street in this weather. And now there we were, a few thousand teenagers, sitting in a parking lot on a hot sunny summer afternoon, with no sunscreen, no shade, no AC, and nothing to drink. There are two hours left in the school day, and pretty much everybody is certain of one thing within five minutes...we're not going back in that building today.

So what happens now? Do they send us home? No. Do they let us whip out our cell phones to call our parents to take us home? Of course not. Didn't stop some kids, of course. Do they let us go into the library? No way, the library's closed until after school. Oh, but they DO open the library that people can go to the bathroom or get water, but nothing else. Hope you like waiting in line with your two thousand schoolmates. Hey, while we're in line, how about we just use the payphone in the lobby? Don't you touch that phone, you little rapscallion.

So what could we do? Sit in the scorching hot parking lot until 2:30. I spent most of that time pacing nervously and desperately trying to find a shady spot to no avail, desperately wanting to just go home or get the fuck away from the crowds because I felt like I couldn't move ANYWHERE. Finally I couldn't take it anymore and was too physically and emotionally exhausted to just walk home like I always do, so I found a spot where the staff wasn't looking and borrowed a friend's phone to call my mom and tell her what the hell's been going on. Ten minutes later she comes speeding up by the street, hurries me into the air-conditioned car and shoves a bottle of cold water in my hands, and I finally get a look at my face in the mirror, bright red with sunburn.

This is, of course, the footnote version, but I hope that at least gives you some idea of how oppressing the atmosphere was. And with that, here comes the part where I break down what exactly I feel was wrong with the situation and the ANSWERS I was getting as to why we couldn't do the things I listed above.

Why couldn't we go home?

Because if something happens to us during school hours it's the school's responsibility. Funny, I wonder if they make that argument for students playing hooky, too. Or if they'd think this was such a good idea still if we all got heat stroke.

Why couldn't we call our parents?

Because no cell phones in school rule aside, the spark of a cell phone could cause an explosion from the gas! First of all, I'm pretty sure Mythbusters disproved that quite definitively. And even if they didn't...we're on the other side of the street where you can't even smell the gas anymore, how do we know that's really a risk? And if it WAS a risk still being that distance from the gas...why are we all still THERE?

But fine. Fine, fine, fine. No cell phones. Whatever. How about the library payphone? Why can't we use that?


No one?

Okay moving on then.

Why couldn't we go into the library except for water and the bathroom?

Because the library's closed. To which I honestly have to say...SO FUCKING OPEN IT. The only reason the library was even closed until the afternoon was to avoid students skipping class to hide out there. Which hardly matters when THE ENTIRE SCHOOL IS RIGHT OUTSIDE YOUR DOOR. Someone was obviously there to unlock it for water and the bathroom, so why couldn't they just call people in to open early so we at least had somewhere to stay? Hell, if a 24-hour diner could call in their ENTIRE STAFF in the middle of the night when an entire convention got flooded out, surely a library can call in some people in the middle of the afternoon because the local high school had a gas leak. Heck, maybe just have the person who opened the door turn on the lights and the TEACHERS can keep the kids under control, maybe even give them something to do! I'm sure some of the English classes would've liked to use the quietrooms for some book discussions or something.

Granted, the library probably couldn't have fit us all anyway, but at least it would be a START.

Several years after this event, I was ranting to some online friends about it, and I had not one, but TWO people telling me that my ideas were not valid in this situation. A cell phone COULD explode gas two hundred feet away, Mythbusters be damned! And furthermore this wasn't the school's fault, they were just doing what the schoolboard said to do in an emergency. To which I say well then, the SCHOOLBOARD is fucked in the head. And of course her only answer to that was a huff and a reminder that SHE was a TEACHER so she should KNOW that she's right. (disclaimer: I have absolutely no disrespect for teachers. You guys have a rough job and I admire your ability to do it.) Even the non-teacher in the chatroom who usually butts head with this person on a regular basis agreed.

I'm just baffled. I am honestly dumbfounded that the plan that involved leaving hundreds of restless teenagers in a hot field with no protection for TWO. HOURS. Was the best plan in this situation. I have literally looked at this over and over in my head and asked why we couldn't call our parents from the payphone, or why one of the TEACHERS couldn't go making calls, or why they couldn't open the library fully, or why they couldn't take us to the shopping center for some McDonald's or Wendy's or even some Baskin Robins, or why they couldn't just call an early release like it was a snow emergency, or ANYTHING that didn't just leave us IN THE SUN FOR TWO HOURS. What if we got heat stroke? What if somebody collapsed? What if this happened in the winter when most of us were likely to have left our coats in the lockers and could get sick or even get hypothermia? What about the Child Development class? I would HOPE if nothing else they made SOME sort of exception for a dozen frightened preschoolers.

And to make this even more baffling to me...a year later, we had a bomb threat on the school. Several, in fact, but there was one in particular. They had to tell us to stay in our classes until the cops had finished sweeping the building. This took over an hour. Afterward, they readjusted things for shorter classes the rest of the day, and announced that during lunch, if we needed to, we could go to the office and call our parents to take us home. So looking at it now I have to ask...why was it okay to call home for a bomb threat situation where everything was pretty much deemed normal, but it wasn't okay to call home for being stranded in the heat? I'm not saying that the bomb threat wasn't stressful, I'm just saying that if you're going to give us the option to go home for one, it should be available to the other in this case.

If there's honestly something I'm missing here, if anybody can tell me given all this why this was Okay, please do. This has been bugging me for years and pretty much reeks of "because I said so" to me and I have yet to hear ANYTHING that makes it reasonable.
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