Yesterday afternoon I was chillin’ at my desk at work, calmly reading through some blogs and patiently waiting for the time I could bust out of the office with all the glee of a man just freed from prison. Then my phone rang and turned my entire day on its head and set it spinning.
“Thank you for calling end-user supp…”
“This is [name redacted] from [name redacted] High School,” a male voice cut me off. Well, that was rude, I thought.
“I regret that I have to tell you about this unfortunate situation…” he began. Oh, great. What did the twins do now? Has one of them been hurt? Did they get in a fight? Did they break the rules? Are they expelled? My mind was a hurricane of irrational worries twirling at category 5 speeds…just from that ominous opening.
“…but we must inform you that we have received a bomb threat at [name redacted] High School. The person making the call threatened to detonate a bomb in the girl’s bathroom…” The man on the phone, which I finally realized was a recording and not a live person, continued to say that the school had been searched and nothing had been found. He added that additional police presence would be on hand for security purposes tomorrow (which is today as I write this). He beseeched us to send our children to school tomorrow and referred to the incident as a stupid prank, which it most likely is.
My newly acquired powers of anxiety took hold at that point. My chest tightened. My heart, were it not for my rib cage, would have burst from my chest and run away screaming. My mind began spiraling out of control. I was completely overwhelmed by emotion, nearly to the point of tears. I hear about these things on the news. I read about them online. It never in a million years occurred to me that it would happen here. Not in a wealthy community which averages about 1 homicide per year. Not in a community who’s biggest worry is the extra traffic another frickin’ Wal-Mart would bring. Of course, the people of Newtown, Connecticut thought these same things, I’d wager.
Logic has no place in an anxious mind. I’ve been in buildings when bomb threats have been called in. I’ve been evacuated while bomb units and their trusty canines searched for explosive devices. I know that if you’re planning to blow some shit up, you’re just going to do it and you won’t call ahead of time to let anyone know you’re going to do it. I know that depraved people will call in false threats simply because they let the devil play with their idle hands. I know this was probably called in by some student who was trying to avoid something the school had planned for today. I know this.
But there were voices echoing throughout my skull. “What if?” they whispered. “What if you’re wrong? What if someone does manage to get an explosive device into the school and detonate it? Are the police going to search every student before they enter the school tomorrow? Is that something you want your children subjected to? Are you really willing to gamble your children’s lives in these days of Sandy Hook, Elliot Rodger, and other mass murders?”
I was on the verge of losing control again. I couldn’t focus. I felt insane. I left my desk and walked a couple of laps around the warehouse in which I work, and ran up and down a few flights of stairs. A half an hour later, with blood pumping and breath heavy, I returned to my desk with a (mostly) clear head. And sweaty armpits. I was still undecided as to whether or not I would send the twins to school tomorrow.
I tried calling their mother for her opinion, but my call went to her voicemail.
Later in the day I was roaming the aisles of Wal-Mart, waiting for a prescription to be filled. As I mindlessly meandered, my thoughts wandered with me. About humanity. About evil. About why humans are so cruel to each other. About selfishness and our disregard for follow humans. It’s saddening that humanity is so damnable that a likely idle threat like this has rendered me paralyzed, jittering in fear for my children’s safety. We humans like to pretend we’re an advanced species, but if you really look at overall human behavior we’re no better than any other animal on this planet. We’re violent, jealous, lustful, selfish, and hysterically impulsive.
The ringing of my phone interrupted my reverie. It was the twins’ mother. We discussed the bomb threat and ultimately agreed that the boys would stay home from school today. There had been rumblings, she said, on Facebook of some kind of drama involving drugs at the high school and the bomb threat was likely a result of that. There may not be a bomb, but that doesn’t mean some other shit won’t go down in the aftermath of whatever drama the school had experienced.
So the twins are home today. They are home, basically, because I’ve lost faith in humanity. While I believe that this bomb threat is a hoax, I’m so completely disillusioned by today’s society that I can’t find it in my heart to bet my children’s lives on it. While I’d like to stand up and declare that my life, or the lives of my children, won’t be dictated by threats of terror, I just can’t. I just can’t roll the dice on this. And that’s the saddest part of all.