Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A Grisly Tale from a Survivor

Read at your own risk! The things I am going to tell you in the following paragraphs are not for the faint of heart. I have carefully considered my words, but some of you will be terrified by the things that are revealed below. If you are taking any medication, please continue to follow your health care provider's instructions, and please stop reading right now. I cannot be responsible for you from this point on.

I attended a horrible school when I was a child. First, even getting there is something fearsome. I rode a bicycle, scary in itself, but get this: I did not wear knee and elbow pads, nor a helmet! I would ride in street clothes from my house to the school. Once at school, I had to go directly to class! They did not provide a breakfast for me!!! We went directly to classrooms, unless we got there early. On those occasions, we were put in what would later that day be the "cafeteria," but was for now a "holding pen" for students while teachers got ready for the day.

Oh, and while we're on transportation, until I was in fifth grade, we didn't have a car that even had seat belts. It had a beautiful green metal dashboard, though. I bumped my head on it a couple of times when my dad made a sudden stop for something like an unprotected kid on a bicycle.

We had two recesses: a morning one and an afternoon one. WE OFTEN PLAYED UNSUPERVISED! I know; you don't believe that. I wouldn't either if I hadn't been there and seen it myself. In one game, we actually threw a non-rubberized so-called "soft ball" at each other. They let us choose teams for this game, and we got to keep score. Nobody seemed to care how the others felt.

Lunch time was frightening. On every table the school officials had allowed the cafeteria workers to place vials of poison. One was called "salt," and the other, "pepper." We sometimes put it in our ice cream dessert just to see how it tasted. Our parents would scold us for it, because they did not want to see food "wasted." They said that because all of them actually paid for it themselves. Some kids brought lunch, and it was in unsealed containers.

They also had a very dangerous machine in the kitchen. It was filled with heart-attack causing grease, maybe even LARD, and they actually FRIED things in it, and expected us to eat it. In fact, our teachers and parents often "encouraged" us to eat everything on our plate.

In the fifth grade, one of our classmates had gone to the Bisbee Copper mines over Christmas (?!!) break, and brought back something amazing for all of us: a bucket of amazing, crazy mercury!!! Boy, did we have fun. First of all, it was really hard to make a fist and plunge it to the bottom of the bucket. Of course, when the big kid tried it, some mercury spilled over, but we had fun chasing it across the classroom floor and watching it break into hundreds of little silver balls. Then our friend decided to let us all have a little of it. Desperately wanting to be a part, I found a paper cup and got my treasure, probably 4-5 tablespoons of it. During the slow days at class, I would drop a little of it on the desk and watch it roll. I would break it up and put it back together. Then I would go eat my sandwich for lunch.

The guys in the white spacesuits never came for cleanup. I don't even know if they had hazmat people back then. As far as I know, traces of that mercury are still embedded in the floor, concrete, and -- who knows? -- ancient desks and chairs of that school, which still stands and serves as an elementary school. I may still have some, somewhere, in storage. As it dwindled, I stored the last of it in a non-child-proof-capped medicine bottle.

When I was in high school, a fight once got out of hand, and one student went home and got a gun, and I would say he got it from his right-wing redneck father, but the student was a member of a hispanic migrant family, so that can't be right. He ran down the hall saying he was going to kill the kid that beat him up (who was, by the way, a filthy white redneck kid, who for some reason, had forgotten his own weapon). The principal, a shop teacher, and two fellow hispanic students wrestled the gun out of his hand.

Now get this: we didn't even get to go home. They had school the rest of the day. And the next. We never saw a swat team, and that lousy school didn't even send in crisis counselors to help us get over the psychological damage it caused. I'm probably still carrying it. And as far as I know, nobody sued.

If a kid didn't do the work, he (generic use, which was ok then) got disciplined. He didn't get special "initials" put on his file. He got licks. Then he did the work and went out to recess with the rest of us. Our teachers taught us subjects; they did not teach us how to take a federally mandated state supervised test. I don't know how we made it to adulthood, or how the generation before us managed to get people all the way to the moon.

If someone got hurt, he (generic) bled and the teacher cleaned it up, maybe with a kleenex. And no rubber gloves or hazmat suit. Those poor uneducated souls didn't even have "body fluid treatment" training like teachers get now.

If you're still reading, and I know most have probably had to leave and will not sleep tonight, I just want to tell you that somehow I survived these primitive conditions. I never had to go to the hospital, and we actually could have afforded to go if necessary.

How did we do it before the government started educating, protecting, preserving, feeding, clothing, housing, and medicating us? How did we live before litigation, psychoanalysis, and sensitivity training? It's amazing that there are still people on earth today.

To those of you reading, I come from a distant time. We were too stupid to know what we needed. We actually used taxes for building roads and defending our country. We took care of our own kids, and an "Independent School District" really was independent. Just thank whatever deities you may or may not believe in that we lived long enough to reproduce and bring forth a generation to save this dying, overheating, depleted world. Thank him/her/them that we somewhere learned how to strap you in, immunize you, and dress you in body armor.

I know it was supposed to be scary, but all I can remember are the good times. I guess I've been propagandized and need to be woken up. Maybe I should be sentenced to stay in a little room for a week while Al Gore movies are shown to me 24 hours a day. Something needs to be done. My generation is a danger to the health, safety, and sanity of those following.

We didn't know how to do anything right.

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