|Last night was the fourth and final 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. 12-hour night watch shift I experienced at San Gabriel Elementary School in Atascadero, CA. Last Friday, which was September 11th, as in 9/11, or the night before, some sociopath with access to the school deposited a container on the campus playground containing a toxic substance as well as one or more threatening letters. Our company was tasked with keeping unauthorized persons off the school property, day and night. Aside from having my circadian rhythm disrupted, with more guard work this weekend and Cal Poly starting next Monday, I was grateful for the chance to serve my community in this small way and earn a few shekels in the process. The single most enduring memory seared into my memory from this experience was how odd it felt looking into each room of the campus and observing frozen in time, the exact moment the campus-wide alarm was sounded and order to leave immediately. Each room featured its own story. In one classroom, most memorably, I observed what appeared to be a test and answer sheet resting on each student desk but none of them appeared to be marked upon yet. The class was about to take the test or quiz when the alarm sounded and they fled and that was it. In the multi-purpose room which serves as both an auditorium, gym, and cafeteria, students' backpacks are strewn all over the place and lunches rest at each sitting location on a large table, uneaten or at least unfinished (featured in the image above). In the faculty lounge, the refrigerator has several women's purses crammed in it. Given the heat wave that was occurring at the time it appears the women placed their cosmetics-laden purses in the box to keep their make-up from melting. At random locations throughout the campus, student's backpacks rest on tables or hang from chain-link fences adjacent to play areas, abandoned when the alarm was sounded last Friday. |
Image by Kim Patrick Noyes (all rights reserved).