Monday, November 9, 2015

I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts

Twenty-four hours later, I drove carefully through the intersection where the horrible accident was, on my way to work again.  Someone had collected the smashed street lights that fell in the street, but glass was still everywhere.

No Pants stared at his notebook.  He had left it unattended.  It read:  "I love Ms. Wagner" in Spanish and in English and was adorned with hearts.  He stared at me.
"I did not write this."
I laughed, knowing that I was the one who had obviously set him up.
"It is TRUE, I do love Ms. Wagner, but I did not write this!".
I have no idea what I will do without him when he moves on to 6th grade next year.

"I WILL NOT get on that big fat spooky, sloppy joe bus!"  Jaquey howled, wagging his finger in the air, hand on hip and butt pushed out.  I chased him down the bus line, ears shattering from the pitch of his voice.
"You told Ms. Warner about the bracelet."
"I had to."
"It's okay, she's not mad.  She just wishes I'd made different choices."

I drove to the convenience store Thursday night, in need of a beer.  I bought my six pack and greeted the guy who works there and proceeded to the parking lot.   As I put the key in the door of Alec's car, a man on a bike called out:

"Don't do it!  High speed chase!".

Within seconds a white-largish car tore by, tire flat and falling off, with a dozen police cars in hot pursuit.  It hung a quick right by the gas station and vanished.  I stood next to the car, shocked.  A minute later, it whipped by the left side of the station, sparks flying off of the wheel and flocked by twice as many police cars and roared into the gas station.  I dumped my six pack and ran with the other people in front of the gas station to the barber shop next door.  We slammed the door and ducked.  The pursued car roared in, nearly missing taking out the front of the gas station and Alec's car.  Fifty-gazillion police roared in at the same time.  I stayed down.  All I could think was that the car would crash into us, or that the police would open fire.

"Why we all hunched down like this..." a low voice finally muttered.
We all stood up and peered out of the window.
"Oh shit, it totally smells like marijuana in here, what if they come in?"  I asked, a little freaked.
"Ain't nobody coming in here, this is private property." someone replied.
"Let's watch!"  I responded.
We stepped out of the barber shop, cell phones raised.

A crazy butch cop was punching the passenger window in of the offending vehicle, with his bare hand.  They dragged a youngish, thin man out of the car who immediately raised his hands over his head.  I kept watching, fearing they would shoot him or beat him.

Dozens more police arrived, Fulton County, Atlanta P.D., State Patrol.  There was even a helicopter with a beam circling above.  A fire truck and a Grady ambulance arrived to treat the cop's hand that punched the window out.

They were fist bumping and chest thumping.  Some wore bullet proof vests.  I walked out to my car and recovered my six-pack.  It was nearly impossible to leave the parking lot because of every type of police vehicle known to man.  I was instructed to make a "three point turn".
"I'm sorry," I responded.
"I don't speak cop-talk".
The officer smiled and guided me out.

"What took you so long?!"  Alec exclaimed upon my return.
"Well, let me tell you, "  I began....

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Waning Gibbous

"I love that!" I exclaimed, while admiring Jaquey's bracelet.
"It's the solar system, we made it in class." he explained, while proudly showing me which bead demonstrated the sun, Mercury, Earth and Mars.  Even little Pluto had its place.
"Ms. Warner has extra beads. I'll make you one!".

I hopped into Alec's car, in the dark and rain and made my way down the road to work.  Monday had been crazy with psycho-dad, Tuesday a little sleepy and now, Wednesday morning, I was on the road.  I drove sleepy eyed toward an intersection, trying to grab my coffee cup without looking while the car in front of me passed through the intersection that I was about to enter.  A speeding SUV tore through the red light without even putting on his breaks and plowed into the car in front of me, which in turn slammed into a telephone pole.  The street lights slammed down and crashed on the street while the offending vehicle veered off and over the grass, into a library parking lot.

"911, can you hold please?"
Elevator music.
"Do you need the police or paramedics?"
"Both...I think both....."
"What happened?"
I explained the situation.
"I don't know how this guy could be alive...."
"Let me connect you to the Atlanta P.D."
"Now, let me connect you to the paramedics."
"Is the victim alive?"
"I don't know, he hasn't gotten out of the car."
"The paramedics are on the way.  Please wait with the victim.  Do not attempt to lift him or allow him to take any medications.  Do not attempt a tourniquet...."

As I walked toward the car, a man approached me.
"What was that?!"  he asked.  "I was sleeping and it woke me up!".  I pointed at the car and walked toward it.
A disoriented man wandered in the street.  The front of his car was crushed, windshield shattered and air bag deployed.
"Are you the guy from the car?!"  I asked, incredulous.
"Yes... yes, I was in the car...." he answered calmly.
"This is a county car...a county car.... I was starting to like this one....I need to call my, can you stay here?"
"Yes, um, are you sure you should be walking around?"
"I'm fine...this is a county car..." he responded.
Another man ran up.
"Holy shit, the other guy is making no sense!"
"I thought he was trying to get away, is he parked by the library?"
"He lost control of the car, the drive train is fucked, he nearly hit me down the street, he was driving without lights on...".
The police and paramedics arrived.  The asked for our statements and the victim asked for my phone number.
"My boss is going to want to know what happened to the's a county car...." he reiterated.
An ambulance from Grady had pulled up.
"Let me check you out" the paramedic said carefully.
"Okay...." the victim responded.
I was relieved.
I told the officials that I was taking off and went to work.  I was nearly forty-five minutes late, but made it to my first class.

I stood in the bus line after school, telling kids not to run who systematically ignored me.  They run like their asses are on fire out of the school.
Jaquey ran up with his hand behind his back.
"I have a surprise for you!"
I screamed and ran.
He chased me and pushed his closed hand out.
Inside was a solar system bracelet.
"Ohhh, thank you!  Ms. Warner let you use the extra beads?"
"She had a SUBSTITUTE today and what she don't know won't hurt her....".

I sat in the Conservatory, exhausted from the day.  I called back the officer that wanted to ask me questions about the accident that I had witnessed that morning.  It was seven o'clock at night.

"Hi, I'm Hilary Wagner, returning your call about the wreck I saw this morning.  Can I ask you a quick question?  The accident was in Fulton County, but you are from Dekalb County.  I don't get it."
"He is one of my undercover officers and thank you Ms. Wagner, thank you for calling me back.  May I record our conversation?".
I explained what I saw.  How the SUV didn't even hit the breaks while tearing through a red light at a four way stop.  That the undercover cop was just going through the same green light I was about to go through.
"What can you tell me about the car that hit him, what more about that car?"
"It shot out of nowhere is all that I can say, didn't even hit the breaks".
"Ms. Wagner, you have my direct line.  I would like you to call me anytime, especially if you can tell me any more details about the car that hit my undercover officer."

"Okay, sure, I will....".

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Teacher of the Year

I stood on the corner across the street from the school, my new morning duty post.  I am getting farther and farther away from the actual building.  It is dark in the morning now and often raining.  It's the Loneliest Duty Post in the World.  I have the uncomfortable job of asking people with students not to use the crosswalk, as there is a near fatality every morning, and to instead use the crosswalk up the street that has crossing guards.  I get a lot of side-eye and huffs and puffs.  It is not a pleasant way to start the morning and was obviously not my idea. 

Everyone was predicting an eventful week.  A full moon, inside recess because of rain, all capped by Halloween.  Mondays aren't really my thing.  Nor are early mornings.  I stood in the dark morning drizzle across the street and down the block from the school, trying not to get a migraine from the bright headlights shining straight into my eyes.  A car pulled off and parked on the street to the side of my questionable crosswalk.  A man and child exited.  I walked up tentatively and delivered my apologetic request that they advance to the next crosswalk for reasons of safety.   The man breathed deep and then loudly started telling me off in front of his kid. 

I have noticed that any sentence that starts with "Look" is usually bad.  No one says "Look!  You are an amazing educator that handles an uncomfortable duty station at 7:20 am with such grace, and my, you are good looking!  What are YOU doing in a place like THIS!?".

"Look, this is a public space and I am going to walk my kid up to that school just like I do everyday....." he said loudly, staring down at me.  Oddly, I have never seen his everyday walk across the street, but, whatever.  I've only been standing on that shit-ass corner for three months, at a horrible morning hour, getting pegged in the head by some type of fucking acorn that falls from the trees at a bullet-like speed.  He continued telling me off for several minutes while parents stared at us.  He even accused me of singling him out for my crosswalk intervention.  Bro, no one has time for all of that, least of all me.  I assumed that at some point he would just cross in the goddamned crosswalk, as I obviously don't throw my body in the street to block people.   He finally came up for air and I responded lowly, "Look man, I'm just doing my job" and walked away.  I was surprised when he turned around and walked with his kid to the other crosswalk, leaving his car running and headlights shining on me and the controversial crosswalk. 

I tried not to look flustered as people passed by me.  I thought of an in-class conversation that had occurred recently.  The kids wanted to know how the teacher of the year selections are made.  I told them, and one kid asked me if I was eligible to be teacher of the year even though I am a Spanish teacher and not general ed. 
"Yeah,"  I responded, laughing, "but everyone forgets about us!".
"Except for your students." Emily said quickly.
"Emily, that is one of the nicer things anyone has said to me lately." I responded, seriously touched. 

I realized that psycho-dad was taking forever to get back to his car, whose lights were still shining on me and my offending crosswalk.  As I glanced over, I paused and looked more carefully at the car.  He was sitting in the driver's seat, high beams on me, staring at me.  I nearly screamed.  He remained there, lights on me, staring from the driver's seat for the remaining ten minutes of my duty.  I finally trotted down the sidewalk, jaywalked and cut through the grass to avoid walking in front of his idling car. 

As I re-told the story to my fellow outside duty friends, I was suddenly yanked into my new principal's office. 
"You can't tell people not to use the crosswalk!" she stated, voice raised.
I lost my shit.  Now I was in fucking trouble?
"LOOK!"  I started, "Do you think that this was my idea?  Do you think I want that duty?  I am doing what the other administrator told me to do.  Believe me, I'd be more that happy not to".
She acquiesced.  And I went on to start my real job, already late for my first class.

Little did I know that bizarro-week was just beginning.